Love’s the greatest healer to be found…
To The Family and Friends of Ron Provost:
This past Sunday I offered my heart in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the soul of my friend of many years, Ronald Provost.
I will again this Sunday.
Since hearing of Ron’s death earlier this week I’ve found myself, even now, conflicted over his passing. If truth be told, my friendship with Ron occurred during a time when dissipation of life ruled both our days and our nights. Alcohol, drugs, false philosophies and lying political movements, all of which, could never set us free. No, underlying this dissipating cloud was our shared need–and at times–desperate search for, love and truth. Yes, this is what Ron and I shared in common during our time together on earth, the search for love and truth–the meaning of life.
For many years this search of ours always ended in terrible defeat. On too many occasions we found ourselves in the position of men full of sorrows and woe. Yet, thankfully, it was at those very times–when one or the other of us was most in need–that we were there for the other, even though neither of us possessed the cure to what ailed us. ..If it’s true that the human mind can only take so much, and it is, it’s true because of the absence of authentic love and truth within these frail human hearts of ours—something only God can provide in full, and does. It is just as St. Augustine states, “O’Lord our hearts are always restless until they rest in you.”
With his passing, my friend has flown on ahead of us all and met up with the heart of God’s love and truth in fullness—Jesus Christ. Little did we in our day discuss together this merciful God of Love who for our sake became the man of all sorrows for his creatures; and thus the only way, truth, and life capable of leading these thirsty souls of ours up and into the needed love, peace, joy, and rest that is the eternal beatific vision of God the Father in Heaven…
Ron knows well today the meaning of life: to come to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with him forever in the next… On this, I’m not conflicted. And so, may his soul ever increase in such blessedness as a true child of the Light. This is the prayer of my heart I’ll be offering up along with the Virgin Mother of God, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters this coming Sunday…
Rest in peace Ron Provost.
I send herein the love of our family and continued prayers on behalf of the entire Provost family, relatives, and friends.
A closing song for my friend I think he’d enjoy; followed by the Sacred Scripture readings of the day, on this his memorial…
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.
“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim;
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
END OF POST
Pope Benedict XVI on the Holocaust…
HT/Yad Vashem – Footage courtesy of Israel Broadcasting Authority
“I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name … I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off” (Is 56:5).
This passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah furnishes the two simple words which solemnly express the profound significance of this revered place: yad – “memorial”; shem – “name”. I have come to stand in silence before this monument, erected to honor the memory of the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah. They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names: these are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again. Most of all, their names are forever fixed in the memory of Almighty God.
One can rob a neighbor of possessions, opportunity or freedom. One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect. Yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being.
Sacred Scripture teaches us the importance of names in conferring upon someone a unique mission or a special gift. God called Abram “Abraham” because he was to become the “father of many nations” (Gen 17:5). Jacob was called “Israel” because he had “contended with God and man and prevailed” (Gen 32:29). The names enshrined in this hallowed monument will forever hold a sacred place among the countless descendants of Abraham. Like his, their faith was tested. Like Jacob, they were immersed in the struggle to discern the designs of the Almighty. May the names of these victims never perish! May their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten! And may all people of goodwill remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this!
The Catholic Church, committed to the teachings of Jesus and intent on imitating his love for all people, feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here. Similarly, she draws close to all those who today are subjected to persecution on account of race, color, condition of life or religion – their sufferings are hers, and hers is their hope for justice. As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, I reaffirm – like my predecessors – that the Church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of peace (cf. Ps 85:9).
The Scriptures teach that it is our task to remind the world that this God lives, even though we sometimes find it difficult to grasp his mysterious and inscrutable ways. He has revealed himself and continues to work in human history. He alone governs the world with righteousness and judges all peoples with fairness (cf. Ps 9:9).
Gazing upon the faces reflected in the pool that lies in stillness within this memorial, one cannot help but recall how each of them bears a name. I can only imagine the joyful expectation of their parents as they anxiously awaited the birth of their children. What name shall we give this child? What is to become of him or her? Who could have imagined that they would be condemned to such a deplorable fate!
As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts. It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood. It is the cry of Abel rising from the earth to the Almighty. Professing our steadfast trust in God, we give voice to that cry using words from the Book of Lamentations which are full of significance for both Jews and Christians:
“The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
Good is the Lord to the one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him;
It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the Lord” (Lam 3:22-26).
My dear friends, I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope.
To Our Venerable Brethren, The Patriarchs, Primates, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries Enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See. Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Blessing.1. We have already had the opportunity on several occasions during Our Pontificate of bearing public testimony to that confidence and devotion towards the Blessed Virgin which We imbibed in Our tenderest years, and have endeavoured to cherish and develop all our life long. For, having fallen upon times of calamity for Christendom and perils for the nations, We have realised how prudent it is to warmly recommend this means of safeguarding happiness and peace which God has most mercifully granted to Mankind in His August Mother, and which hath ever been celebrated in the annals of the Church. The manifold zeal of Christian people has responded to Our desires and exhortations, most particularly in exciting a devotion to the Rosary; and a plentiful harvest of excellent fruits has not been wanting. Still we can never be satisfied with celebrating the Divine Mother, who is in truth worthy of all praise, and in urging love and affection towards her who is also the mother of mankind, who is full of mercy, full of grace. Yea, Our soul, wearied with the cares of the Apostolate, the nearer it feels the time of Our departure to be at hand, with the more earnest confidence looks up to her from whom, as from a blessed dawn, arose the Day of happiness and joy that was never to set. It is pleasant to us to remember, Venerable Brethren, that We have in other letters issued from time to time extolled the devotion of the Rosary; for it is in many ways most pleasing to her in whose honour it is employed, and most advantageous to those who properly use it. But it is equally pleasant to be able now to insist upon and confirm the same fact. Herein we have an excellent opportunity to paternally exhort men’s minds and hearts to an increase of religion, and to stimulate within them the hope of eternal reward.2. The form of prayer We refer to has obtained the special name of “Rosary,” as though it represented by its arrangement the sweetness of roses and the charm of a garland. This is most fitting for a method of venerating the Virgin, who is rightly styled the Mystical Rose of Paradise, and who, as Queen of the universe, shines therein with a crown of stars. So that by its very name it appears to foreshadow and be an augury of the joys and garlands of Heaven offered by her to those who are devoted to her. This appears clearly if we consider the nature of the Rosary of Our Lady. There is no duty which Christ and His Apostles more emphatically urged by both precept and example than that of prayer and supplication to Almighty God. The Fathers and Doctors in subsequent times have taught that this is a matter of such grave necessity, that if men neglect it they hope in vain for eternal salvation. Every one who prays finds the door open to impetration, both from the very nature of prayer and from the promises of Christ. And we all know that prayer derives its chief efficacy from two principal circumstances: perseverance, and the union of many for one end. The former is signified in those invitations of Christ so full of goodness: ask, seek, knock (Matt. vii., 7), just as a kind father desires to indulge the wishes of his children, but who also requires to be continually asked by them and as it were wearied by their prayers, in order to attach their hearts more closely to himself. The second condition Our Lord has born witness to more than once: If two of you shall consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by My Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. xviii. 19, 20). Hence that pregnant saying of Tertullian: Let us gather into an assembly and congregation that we may, as it were, make up a band and solicit God (Apologet. c. xxxix): such violence is pleasing to God; and the memorable words of Aquinas: It is impossible that the prayers of many should not be heard, if one prayer is made up as it were out of many supplications. (In Evang. Matt. c. xvii). Both of these qualities are conspicuous in the Rosary. For, to be brief, by repeating the same prayers we strenuously implore from Our Heavenly Father the Kingdom of His grace and glory; we again and again beseech the Virgin Mother to aid us sinners by her prayers, both during our whole life and especially at that last moment which is the stepping-stone to eternity. The formula of the Rosary, too, is excellently adapted to prayer in common, so that it has been styled, not without reason, “The Psalter of Mary.” And that old custom of our forefathers ought to be preserved or else restored, according to which Christian families, whether in town or country, were religiously wont at close of day, when their labours were at an end, to assemble before a figure of Our Lady and alternately recite the Rosary. She, delighted at this faithful and unanimous homage, was ever near them like a loving mother surrounded by her children, distributing to them the blessings of domestic peace, the foretaste of the peace of heaven. Considering the efficacy of public prayer, We, among other decrees which we have from time to time issued concerning the Rosary, have spoken thus: “It is Our desire that in the principal church of each diocese it should be recited every day, and in parish churches on every feast-day (Apostolic Letter Salutaris Ille, 24th December, 1883). Let this be constantly and devoutly carried out. We also see with joy the custom extended on other solemn occasions of public devotion and in pilgrimages to venerated shrines, the growing frequency of which is to be commended. This association of prayer and praise to Mary is both delightful and salutary for souls. We ourselves have most strongly experienced this – and Our heart rejoices to recall it – when at certain times in Our Pontificate We have been present in the Vatican basilica, surrounded by great crowds of all classes, who united with Us in mind, voice, and hope, earnestly invoked by the mysteries and prayers of the Rosary, her who is the most powerful patroness of the Catholic name.
3. And who could think or say that the confidence so strongly felt in the patronage and protection of the Blessed Virgin is excessive? Undoubtedly the name and attributes of the absolute Mediator belong to no other than to Christ, for being one person, and yet both man and God, He restored the human race to the favour of the Heavenly Father: One Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a redemption for all (1 Tim. ii. 5, 6). And yet, as the Angelic Doctor teaches, there is no reason why certain others should not be called in a certain way mediators between God and man, that is to say, in so far as they cooperate by predisposing and ministering in the union of man with God (Summa, p. 111., q. xxvi., articles 1, 2). Such are the angels and saints, the prophets and priests of both Testaments; but especially has the Blessed Virgin a claim to the glory of this title. For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much towards reconciling man with God. She offered to mankind. hastening to eternal ruin, a Saviour, at that moment when she received the announcement of the mystery of peace brought to this earth by the Angel, with that admirable act of consent in the name of the whole human race ( Summa. p. III., q. xxx., art. 1). She it is from whom is born Jesus; she is therefore truly His mother, and for this reason a worthy and acceptable “Mediatrix to the Mediator.” As the various mysteries present themselves one after the other in the formula of the Rosary for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also elucidate what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation. No one can fail to be sweetly affected when considering her who appeared in the house of Elizabeth as the minister of the divine gifts, and who presented her Son to the Shepherds, to the kings, and to Simeon. Moreover, one must remember that the Blood of Christ shed for our sake and those members in which He offers to His Father the wounds He received, the price of our liberty, are no other than the flesh and blood of the virgin, since the flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary, and however much it was exalted in the glory of His resurrection, nevertheless the nature of His flesh derived from Mary remained and still remains the same (de Assumpt. B. V. M., c. v., among the Opera S. Aug).
4. Yet another excellent fruit follows from the Rosary, exceedingly opportune to the character of our times. This we have referred to elsewhere. It is that, whilst the virtue of Divine Faith is daily exposed to so many dangers and attacks, the Christian may here derive nourishment and strength for his faith. Holy writ calls Christ the Author and finisher of faith (Heb. vii. 2), the Author, because He taught men many things which they had to believe, especially about Himself in whim dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (Colos. ii., 9), and also because He mercifully gives the power of believing by the grace and, as it were, the function of the Holy Ghost; the Finisher, because in Heaven, where He will change the habit of faith into the splendour of glory, He openly discloses to them those things which they have seen in this mortal life as through a veil. Now Christ stands forth clearly in the Rosary. We behold in meditation His life, whether His hidden life in joy, or His public life in excessive toil and sufferings unto death, or His glorious life from His triumphant resurrection to His eternal enthronement at the right hand of the Father. And since faith, to be full and sufficient, must display itself, – for with the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. x., 10), – so have we also in the Rosary an excellent means unto this, for by those vocal prayers with which it is intermingled, we are enabled to express and profess our faith in God, our most watchful Father; in the future life, the forgiveness of sins; in the mysteries of the august Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word, the Divine Maternity, and others. All know the value and merit of faith. For faith is just like a most precious gem, producing now the blossoms of all virtue by which we are pleasing to God, and hereafter to bring forth fruits that will last for ever: for to know Thee is perfect justice, and to know Thy justice and Thy power is the root of immortality (Wisdom xv., 3). It is here the place to add a remark respecting the duties of those virtues which faith rightly postulates. Among them is the virtue of penance, and one part of this is abstinence, which for more reasons than one is necessary and salutary. It is true the Church is growing more indulgent towards her children in this matter, but they must understand they are bound to take all care to make up for this maternal indulgence by other good works. We rejoice for this reason also to propose particularly the use of the rosary, which is capable of producing worthy fruits of penance, especially by the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ and His Mother.
5. To those therefore who are striving after supreme happiness this means of the Rosary has been most providentially offered, and it is one unsurpassed for facility and convenience. For any person, even moderately instructed in his religion can make use of it with fruit, and the time it occupies cannot delay any man’s business. Sacred history abounds with striking and evident examples. It is well known that there have been many persons occupied in most weighty functions or absorbed in laborious cares who have never omitted for a single day this pious practice. Combined with this advantage is that inward sentiment of devotion which attracts minds to the Rosary, so that they love it as the intimate companion and faithful protector of life; and in their last agony they embrace and hold fast to it as the dear pledge of the unfading Crown of glory. Such a pledge is greatly enhanced by the benefits of sacred indulgences, if properly employed; for the devotion of the Rosary has been richly endowed with such indulgences by both our Predecessors and Ourselves. These favours will certainly prove most efficacious to both the dying and the departed, being bestowed as it were by the hands of the merciful Virgin, in order that they may the sooner enjoy the eternal peace and light they have desired.
6. These considerations, Venerable Brethren, move us incessantly to extol and recommend to Catholic peoples this excellent and most salutary form of devotion. Yet another very urgent reason, of which we have often spoken both in Letters and Allocutions, encourages us to do this. For that earnest desire, which We have learnt from the Divine Heart of Jesus, of fostering the work of reconciliation among those who are separated from Us daily urges Us more pressingly to action; and we are convinced that this most excellent Re-union cannot be better prepared and strengthened than by the power of prayer. The example of Christ is before us, for in order that His disciples might be one in faith and charity, he poured forth prayer and supplication to His Father. And concerning the efficacious prayer of His most holy Mother for the same end, there is a striking testimony in the Acts of the Apostles. Therein is described the first assembly of the Disciples, expecting with earnest hope and prayer the promised fullness of the Holy Spirit. And the presence of Mary united with them in prayer is specially indicated: All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus (Acts i., 14). Wherefore as the nascent church rightly joined itself in prayer with her as the patroness and most excellent custodian of Unity, so in these times is it most opportune to do the same all over the Catholic World, particularly during the whole month of October, which we have long ago decreed to be dedicated and consecrated, by the solemn devotion of the Rosary, to the Divine Mother, in order to implore her for the afflicted Church. Let then the zeal for this prayer everywhere be re-kindled, particularly for the end of Holy Unity. Nothing will be more agreeable and acceptable to Mary; for, as she is most closely united with Christ she especially wishes and desires that they who have received the same Baptism with Him may be united with Him and with one another in the same faith and perfect charity. So may the sublime mysteries of this same faith by means of the Rosary devotion be more deeply impressed in men’s minds, with the happy result that “we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.”
7. Meanwhile, as a pledge of the Divine Favours and Our affection, We most lovingly impart to You, your clergy and People, the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, September 20, 1896, in the 19th year of Our Pontificate.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen ‘The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick’: the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering, is offered to us.
The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her ‘Yes’ of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the ‘Yes’ which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one’s turn ‘fiat’ to the will of God, with all one’s existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.
2. One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early centuries onwards. ‘The flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy Spirit, is bread descended from heaven’, observed St. Hilary of Poitiers. In the Bergomensium Sacramentary of the ninth century we read: ‘Her womb made flower a fruit, a bread that has filled us with an angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her sin’. And St. Pier Damiani observed: ‘That body that the most blessed Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that body I say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar, and we drink its blood as a sacrament of our redemption. This is what the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches’. The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the mystic Body of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life, as a result of which the Church, seeing Mary as her model, ‘is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery’ (Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielles.
The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members, who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that ‘the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed’? (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici doloris, n. 26).
3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to worship Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to him as Hope that does not disappoint, to receive him as that medicine of immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus Christ redeemed the world through his suffering, his death and his resurrection, and he wanted to remain with us as the ‘bread of life’ on our earthly pilgrimage. ‘The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World’: this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasises how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the face of its Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, ‘Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become “bread that is broken” for others’ (n. 88). We are thus encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world.
4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man’s aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27). Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world. My beloved Predecessor also stated that ‘The more a person is threatened by sin, the heavier the structures of sin which today’s world brings with it, the greater is the eloquence which human suffering possesses in itself. And the more the Church feels the need to have recourse to the value of human sufferings for the salvation of the world’ (ibidem). If, therefore, at Quebec the mystery of the Eucharist, the gift of God for the life of the world, is contemplated during the World Day of the Sick in an ideal spiritual parallelism, not only will the actual participation of human suffering in the salvific work of God be celebrated, but the valuable fruits promised to those who believe can in a certain sense be enjoyed. Thus pain, received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and the happiness of his Resurrection.
5. While I extend my cordial greetings to all sick people and to all those who take care of them in various ways, I invite the diocesan and parish communities to celebrate the next World Day of the Sick by appreciating to the full the happy coinciding of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes with the International Eucharistic Congress. May it be an occasion to emphasise the importance of the Holy Mass, of the Adoration of the Eucharist and of the cult of the Eucharist, so that chapels in our health-care centres become a beating heart in which Jesus offers himself unceasingly to the Father for the life of humanity! The distribution of the Eucharist to the sick as well, done with decorum and in a spirit of prayer, is true comfort for those who suffer, afflicted by all forms of infirmity.
May the next World Day of the Sick be, in addition, a propitious circumstance to invoke in a special way the maternal protection of Mary over those who are weighed down by illness; health-care workers; and workers in pastoral care in health! I think in particular of priests involved in this field, women and men religious, volunteers and all those who with active dedication are concerned to serve, in body and soul, the sick and those in need. I entrust all to Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, the Immaculate Conception. May she help everyone in testifying that the only valid response to human pain and suffering is Christ, who in resurrecting defeated death and gave us the life that knows no end. With these feelings, from my heart I impart to everyone my special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 11 January 2008
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
First, the good news… Abortions have fallen nationally 25% from their all time high in 1990, so says a new study. Now the bad news… Oregon has been rated the worst pro life state in the union! Get the full story by reading the excellent overview on this post below–provided by the good folks over at: Americans United for Life
To find a R v. Wade Memorial March in your area of Oregon, Go Here. Then go!!!
To find the path of healing and renewal (men and women) from abortion, Click Here.
# 50 Most Pro-life State
Oregon has a dismal record of failing to protect women, the unborn, the sick, and the dying. For example, Oregon does not mandate informed consent or parental involvement for abortion, does not recognize an unborn child as a potential victim of homicide or assault, and does not limit destructive embryo research or human cloning. Most disturbing is Oregon’s law permitting physician-assisted suicide.
Abortion and Protection of the Unborn and Newly Born
Overall Assessment: Dangerous
Women’s Health & Safety
- Oregon does not provide even rudimentary protection for women considering abortions. The state does not have an informed consent law, a parental involvement law for minors seeking abortions, abortion clinic regulations, ultrasound requirements, or a prohibition on anyone other than a licensed physician performing an abortion.
- Oregon taxpayers fund abortions for women eligible for state medical assistance for general care.
- Oregon has established the Sexual Assault Victims’ Emergency Medical Response Fund, which pays for medical assessments and the provision of emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault.
- Health plans that provide prescription coverage must also cover prescription contraceptives. Religious employers may refuse coverage if their primary purpose is the inculcation of religious values; primarily employ and serve people with the same values; and are nonprofit entities under federal law.
- Hospitals must provide sexual assault victims with information about and access to emergency contraception. Further, the state department of justice must pay for medical assessments of sexual assault victims, including the provision of emergency contraception and the prescription for emergency contraception to minors.
Protection for the Unborn & Newly Born
- Current Oregon law does not recognize an unborn child as a potential victim of homicide or assault.
- Oregon does not require that an infant who survives an abortion be given appropriate, potentially lifesaving medical care.
- Oregon has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring that the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
Overall Assessment: Dangerous
- Oregon maintains no laws regarding destructive embryo research or human cloning.
- Oregon requires that physicians perform artificial insemination procedures.
- Oregon allows health insurance companies to ask for genetic testing, but prohibits discrimination in payment for hospital or medical expenses based on the results of such testing.
End of Life Laws
Overall Assessment: Dangerous
- Oregon permits physician-assisted suicide under statutorily specified circumstances.
- In cases involving life-sustaining treatment and a healthcare provider’s refusal to provide that treatment, Oregon law offers no effective protection for a patient’s wishes as expressed through his/her advance directive. Moreover, there is no duty to provide lifesustaining treatments while a patient waits for transfer to a facility willing to comply with the patient’s wishes.
Healthcare Rights of Conscience Laws
Overall Assessment: Dangerous
Participation in Abortion:
- A physician is not required to participate in or give advice about abortion if he or she discloses this election to the patient.
- A hospital employee or medical staff member is not required to participate in abortions if he or she has notified the hospital of this election.
- A private hospital is not required to admit a woman for an abortion.
- Department of Human Services employees who object in writing may refuse to offer family planning and birth control services.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Oregon currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers to conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of immoral medical research.
What Happened in 2007
- Oregon enacted a measure requiring health plans that provide prescription coverage to also cover prescription contraceptives. Religious employers may refuse coverage if their primary purpose is the inculcation of religious values; primarily employ and serve people with the same values; and are nonprofit entities under federal law.
- In addition, the measure requires hospitals to provide sexual assault victims with information about and access to emergency contraception. Further, the state department of justice must now pay for medical assessments of sexual assault victims, including the provision of emergency contraception and the prescription for emergency contraception’ to minors.
- Oregon considered a measure directly attacking the mission of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). The measure would have established a study committee to “review” the policies and procedures of state CPCs. The alleged impetus for the bill was that CPCs are providing women with so-called “misleading” and/or “false” information.
- Oregon also considered measures regulating abortion facilities; relating to informed consent and information about fetal pain; requiring parental notice; and protecting unborn victims of violence.
- On the bioethics front, the state considered measures banning cloning, as well as a measure promoting destructive embryo research. It also considered a measure requiring insurance coverage of infertility treatments.
- In addition, Oregon considered measures related to advance directives.
(Note: Oregon will not hold a regular legislative sesion in 2008.)
- Oregon lags far behind other states in ensuring that women considering abortion receive accurate and complete information about abortion, the risks of abortion, alternatives to abortion, and the availability of public assistance to help women who want to carry their pregnancies to term.
- Oregon does not protect the health and well-being of minors by requiring parental involvement before an abortion is performed on a minor.
- Oregon does not license and regulate abortion clinics, thereby failing to ensure that minimum health and safety standards are met.
- Oregon does not protect the unborn or newly born by recognizing an unborn child as a potential victim of crime or requiring that infants who survive abortions be given appropriate care.
- Oregon does not ban human cloning or destructive embryo research.
- Because Oregon does not protect the wishes of patients as expressed in their advance directives, patients are vulnerable to the wishes of physicians and hospitals unless the state enacts a statute mandating transfer and requiring life-sustaining treatment pending transfer (and without a time limit).
- Oregon provides no protection for healthcare providers to conscientiously object to participation in procedures other than abortion, such as destructive embryo research or physician-assisted suicide.
Wednesday Audience: St. Augustine Encourages Our Trust in an Ever-living Christ
VATICAN CITY, 16 JAN 2008 (VIS) – Continuing the catechesis he began last week on the subject of St. Augustine, in today’s general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope considered the final years in the life of that Doctor of the Church. The Holy Father highlighted how, four years before his death, St. Augustine had appointed a successor, Heraclius, as bishop of Hippo, because he “wished to dedicate the years that remained to him to a more profound study of Holy Scripture”.“What followed were four years of extraordinary intellectual activity” during which time the saint also “intervened to promote peace in the African provinces which were being assailed by barbarian tribes from the south”, said the Pope. He then quoted St. Augustine’s own words – “it is a higher glory to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war” – and highlighted how the siege of Hippo by the Vandals in 429 brought great suffering to the saint.
“Though he was old and tired, Augustine remained at the breach, comforting himself and others with prayer and meditation on the mysterious designs of Providence. … If, indeed, the world grows old, Christ is ever young, and so I invite you: ‘Do not refuse to be rejuvenated with Christ, Who tells you not to fear as ‘your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle’,” said Pope Benedict quoting from the sermons of Augustine. “Hence Christians must not be dejected but make every effort to help those in need”, he added.
After recalling how “Augustine’s house-monastery used to open its doors to welcome his colleagues in the episcopate who came asking for hospitality”, the Holy Father noted that the Doctor of the Church, finally free of commitments, took advantage of his time “to dedicate himself with greater intensity to prayer. He used to say that no-one, bishop, religious or lay person, however irreproachable their behaviour, could face death without adequate penance, and it was for this reason that he continually and tearfully repeated the penitential psalms which he had so often recited with his people”.
The bishop of Hippo died on 28 August 430, said the Pope, “at some uncertain date his body was transferred to Sardinia and thence, around 725, to the basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia, where it rests today”.
“We discover him ‘living’ in his writings”, said Pope Benedict. “When I read the works of St. Augustine, I do not get the impression that here is a man who died more or less 1600 years ago, rather that he is man of today, a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, to us, with his fresh and topical faith”.
In the saint’s works, “we see the permanent relevance of his faith, of the faith that comes from Christ, the eternal Word incarnate, Son of God and Son of man. And we see”, the Holy Father concluded, “that this is not yesterday’s faith, even though it was preached yesterday, it is today’s because Christ really is – yesterday, today and forever – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and so find the path of life”.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
VATICAN CITY, 15 JAN 2008 (VIS) – The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, begins on Friday. The theme chosen for this year’s initiative, taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, is: “Pray without ceasing”. The texts for reflection and prayer have been prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.
Each day of the Week will have a different theme:
18 January: Pray always. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5, 17).
19 January: Pray always, trusting God alone. “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5, 18).
20 January: Pray without ceasing for the conversion of hearts. “Admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted” (1 Thessalonians 5, 14).
21 January: Pray always for justice. “See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all” (1 Thessalonians 5, 15).
22 January: Pray constantly with a patient heart. “Be patient with all of them” (1 Thessalonians 5, 14).
23 January: Pray always for grace to work with God. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5, 16).
24 January: Pray for what we need. “. help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5, 14).
25 January: Pray always that they all may be one. “Be at peace” (1 Thessalonians 5, 13b)
Although the traditional period for celebrating this week of prayer is in the month of January, in the southern hemisphere Churches sometimes seek other periods such as, for example, around the time of Pentecost, which is also a symbolically significant date for the unity of the Church, and was suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926.
In the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls at 5.30 p.m. on Friday, 25 January, Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul, Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of Vespers to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.