Tag Archives: the cross

Catholic and Homosexual

What follows is the full text of the teaching on homosexuality according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997).

Full Text of Catholic Catechism Regarding Homosexuality – 1997

#2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

#2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

#2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

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Bishop Robert Vasa: ‘The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified’

vasa.gifBEND, OREGON — We enter upon that liturgical season which, in some ways, begins with Jesus’ acknowledgement that “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” (John 12:23)

            The approaching of that “hour” was not greeted by Jesus with any element of joyful exuberance but rather willful determination: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27)

            There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind that the “hour” of His Passion and Death was the defining moment toward which His entire mission and purpose was directed. The clarity of His mission gave direction to the whole of His life. He was always very clear: “I have come to do the will of Him who sent me!” (cf. John 5:30) The faithful following of His Father’s will, leading as it did to the hill of Calvary, was not necessarily cheerful and it was certainly not easy.

            Beginning on Sunday, Palm Sunday, we are all invited to walk with Jesus in this “hour” and perhaps by doing so discovering for ourselves that thing about which we can ultimately say: “But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”

            Undoubtedly every one of us has experienced many such “hours” over the course of the years. For those who are married the day of marriage looks very much like “that for which I have been born.” For priests, the day of ordination stands out quite preeminently. For those suffering with cancer, perhaps the day of diagnosis could be viewed as the day when one’s “hour” had come.

            Then there are the days related to these primary days which raise the question again, “Was it for this that I have been sent?” The day of the birth of a child is a day on which parents might rightly ask, “Was it for this purpose that I have come to this hour?” A priest hearing a particularly distraught confession spanning many years and then offering the grace of healing and forgiveness might reflect, “Was it for this moment that I have become a priest?”

            In a far different way, a person, perhaps working for decades to discover some medical breakthrough, might upon making that breakthrough proclaim, Eureka, this gives meaning to my existence. Such a discovery, however, unless it is in accord with God’s will, may seem to give meaning and significance to life but it does not “give life” in the same way that Jesus comes to “give life.”

             No one of us will ever be able to declare definitively, at any moment in life, that the moment being considered is the ideal summation of the whole meaning of our entire lives. Yet, this is what Jesus declares when looking to the days we are now preparing to remember and celebrate, the days of His Passion, Death and, of course, Resurrection. This clarity on the part of Jesus helped assure that every moment of His life was likewise consistent with the will of His Father and consistent with the “purpose for which He came.” While we may not have a very high degree of security in trying to determine that precise moment which adequately defines or epitomizes the whole meaning of our lives, we can, nonetheless, arrive at a degree of peaceful security that we are living in a way consistent with that meaning. Like Jesus we are to strive to live a life consistent with “the will of the Father.” “I have come to do the will of Him who sent me.”

            It may seem a bit odd to ask, “Was it God’s will that I travel to Portland this weekend?” I would like to believe that there was nothing inconsistent with God’s will for me to have done so. Was it God’s will the I meet with the various folks with whom I had the opportunity to meet? Again I would like to believe that there was nothing inconsistent with God’s will for me to have done so. Beyond that I would like to be able to affirm that my having gone to Portland and having met with various folks was, in fact, perfectly consistent with God’s will for me.

            I would say the same thing about my travel to Baker City and the Cathedral for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. While it is my responsibility to set the precise day, time and location the Church clearly instructs Bishops about the duty to celebrate the Mass of the Chrism and sets the precise ritual to be followed in doing so. Thus my celebrating of the Mass of Chrism fulfills the mandate of the Church which is, for me in faith, a fulfillment of God’s will in this matter. I would like to believe that it is also “God’s will” that a significant number of the faithful of the Diocese likewise travel to the Cathedral to participate in this annual blessing of Sacramental Oils but that may be an unjust expansion of my understanding of God’s will. I could say, with a high degree of certainty, that traveling to the Cathedral to participate in the Mass of Chrism would not seem to be inconsistent with the will of God.

            There are some who are very reluctant to equate the teaching of the Church with the “will of God.” Yet, for myself, I find it very difficult to assert that God’s will for me in a particular matter, and perhaps even in a very small matter, is directly opposed to the manifestation of “His will” through the Church. Even when, or perhaps especially when the “will of God” as expressed by the Magisterial Church seems to run contrary to what I personally feel or desire I must strive to submit my own will and desire to that manifest will of God. When the teachings of the Church bump up against my own will and my own desires then what am I to say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’ or ‘Father, this teaching is unacceptable’ or ‘Father, you are simply wrong’?

            As a part of our Easter celebration we focus on the Creed in a slightly different form. We take up that creedal dialogue connected with Baptism and answer a personal, ‘I do’, to each tenet of our Creed. To the question: “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the body and life everlasting?” we answer, “I do.”

Included in that answer, included in our weekly Profession of Faith is a commitment to accept the teachings of the Church as a part of the manifest will of God for us.

Look To The Cross: Archbishop John Vlazny

                                    vlazny.gifWhen the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and even St. Patrick have to step aside to make room for something else, you know it has to be important. With Holy Week and Easter Week on the horizon, feasts of Mary, of Joseph and of the great Irish evangelizer are not being observed on their traditional dates this year. Mary’s Annunciation will be celebrated on Monday, April 7. St. Joseph’s Day is Saturday, March 15. St. Patrick’s Day is being observed on a variety of days, depending on the local pastor. Liturgically, it’s not on our calendar here this year.

            Yes, Holy Week and Easter Week are the centerpiece of the liturgical year of our Catholic family. It all begins on Palm Sunday with the blessing of the palms and the procession into our churches. It concludes on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 6, when we acknowledge that the paschal mystery of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection is the reason we are all confident that healing and reconciliation are indeed possible.

            This week I would like to say something about Holy Week in our parishes. Next week I will focus on our great Easter feast, one that actually lasts not just for a week but for several weeks. The news of the Lord’s resurrection is so good that one day or one week could never be enough to celebrate all those wonderful events that happened outside Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago.

            In his Holy Thursday homily last year, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the apparent contradiction between the gospel of St. John and the synoptic gospels about the Last Supper of Jesus. According to John, Jesus died on the cross precisely when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the temple. Matthew, Mark and Luke suggest that the Last Supper was truly a Passover meal at which a slain lamb was already the centerpiece. Until the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran were discovered several decades ago, most exegetes concurred with the synoptics, believing that John was hesitant to tell the true historical date of the death of Jesus and chose a symbolic date. But the discovery of the scrolls now leads us to believe that John’s account is historically accurate.

            As our Holy Father relates, Jesus shed his own blood at the very time of the immolation of the lambs. More than likely He celebrated the Passover supper without a lamb, like the Qumran community. When Jesus celebrated the Passover with his friends, the lamb present was not one that had been sacrificed in the temple. The lamb was Jesus, who the next day gave himself, his own body and blood, for the salvation of the world!

            You may recall that at the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was pointed out by John the Baptist who said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1: 29) When Jesus was nailed to the cross on Good Friday, He himself became the lamb of sacrifice. It is for that reason that the cross has become the focal point of the new Passover of Jesus which we Christians celebrate whenever we gather for Eucharist. On Holy Thursday evening we commemorate the institution of the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. We receive Holy Communion with reverence and we spend a good part of the night in adoration before the Lamb present among us in the tabernacle of our altar.

            Another major celebration for us each year is the Mass of the Blessing of Holy Oils. According to the liturgical books, it should be celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday. But diocesan bishops are given permission to celebrate this liturgy at a time when priests may more conveniently gather to concelebrate this important Eucharist with their bishop. Here in the Archdiocese of Portland we celebrate this Mass on Monday night of Holy Week. Given the great distances many of our priests must travel, it would not be feasible for them to be present at the cathedral on Holy Thursday morning and then return in time to their parishes for the Holy Thursday evening liturgy. I am grateful each year for the wonderful turnout of religious and laity for this liturgical celebration.

            Through the Eucharist we are nourished with the very life of Jesus on our journey of faith. But the holy oils blessed each year before Easter also mark us in a very unique way as God’s holy people, chosen to be the instruments of his evangelizing mission in today’s world.

            The oil of the sick is usually reserved for healing in our parish communities. We still have some folks who misunderstand the use of this sacramental oil, waiting to call a priest for the sacred anointing only at the time of death. The name of the sacrament was changed years ago from Extreme Unction to the Anointing of the Sick so that people would understand the nature of these prayers for healing and forgiveness. The sacraments for the dying are Reconciliation and Viaticum, that is, Holy Communion, the important spiritual nourishment we need for the final and sometimes difficult steps on the journey of faith.

            The oil of catechumens is used to prepare those about to receive the sacraments of Initiation so that they will be assisted by the grace of God in their struggle with temptation and evil. On the very first Sunday of Lent we meditated on the temptations of Jesus. Like the Lord himself, we too are prompted by the devil to seek prestige, power and possessions rather than the will of God. Jesus resisted the temptations. It’s a much more difficult task for us, just as it was for our first parents, Adam and Eve. We see all around us how people want to be their own gods, controlling life and death, decrying virtue and embracing freedom in all things, even in the realm of what is both unhealthy and unholy.

            The final oil that we bless before Easter each year is the sacred chrism, our “Christ oil,” the sacramental sign whereby in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders Christians are set aside to be “other Christs,” bringing the love and care of Jesus to all around us. We all are gifted with the royal priesthood of Jesus in Baptism and re-anointed with chrism at Confirmation to remind us that the gift is one meant to be shared. Some are anointed again through Holy Orders so that they might carry on the servant-ministry of Jesus as did the first apostles.

            There is much to ponder in Holy Week each year. It is a most sacred time. I encourage all of you to attend the liturgical services in your parish churches throughout the week. Please pray for all of us clergy, bishops, priests and deacons, and all our lay pastoral ministers who have come among you to serve and not to be served. When we look to the cross throughout Holy Week, we do so with great love, abiding hope, and renewed faith that this Jesus who loved us to the end still lives among us and will be with us until our end.

Source: Catholic Sentinel

Pope Benedict XVI: Palm Sunday Message, St. Peter’s Square 03.16.08

piazza-statues-cc-notrivers-350.jpg 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

            Year after year the Gospel passage for Palm Sunday recounts Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Together with his disciples and an increasing multitude of pilgrims he went up from the plain of Galilee to the Holy City. The Evangelists have handed down to us three proclamations of Jesus concerning his Passion, like steps on his ascent, thereby mentioning at the same time the inner ascent that he was making on this pilgrimage. Jesus was going toward the temple – toward the place where God, as Deuter-onomy says, had chosen to “make his name dwell” (cf. 12: 11; 14: 23). God who created heaven and earth gave himself a name, made himself invocable; indeed, he made himself almost tangible to human beings. No place can contain him, yet for this very reason he gave himself a place and a name so that he, the true God, might be personally venerated as God in our midst. We know from the account of the 12-year-old Jesus that he loved the temple as his Father’s house, as his paternal home. He now visits this temple once again but his journey extends beyond it: the final destination of his climb is the Cross. It is the ascent described in the Letter to the Hebrews as the ascent towards the tent not pitched by human hands but by the Lord, which leads to God’s presence. The final climb to the sight of God passes through the Cross. It is the ascent toward “love to the end” (cf. Jn 13: 1), which is God’s true mountain, the definitive place of contact between God and man.

            During his entry into Jerusalem, the people paid homage to Jesus as the Son of David with the words of the pilgrims of Psalm 118[117]: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt 21: 9). He then arrived at the temple. There, however, in the place that should have been taken up by the encounter between God and man, he found livestock merchants and money-changers who occupied this place of prayer with their commerce. Certainly, the animals on sale were destined to be burned as sacrifices in the temple, and since in the temple it was impossible to use coins that bore the likeness of the Roman emperors, who were in opposition to the true God, they had to be exchanged for coins that did not show the idolatrous image. All this, however, could have taken place elsewhere: the place where this was now occurring should have been, in accordance with its destined purpose, the atrium of pagans. Indeed, the God of Israel was precisely the one God of all peoples. And although pagans did not enter, so to speak, into the Revelation, they could however, in the atrium of faith, join in the prayer to the one God. The God of Israel, the God of all people, had always been awaiting their prayers too, their seeking, their invocations. Instead, commerce was prevailing – dealings legalized by the competent authority which, in its turn, profited from the merchants’ earnings. The merchants acted correctly, complying with the law in force, but the law itself was corrupt. “Covetousness… is idolatry”, the Letter to the Colossians says (3: 5). This was the idolatry Jesus came up against in the face of which he cites Isaiah: “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Mt 21: 13; cf. Is 56: 7), and Jeremiah: “But you make it a den of robbers” (Mt 21: 13; cf. Jer 7: 11). Against the wrongly interpreted order, Jesus with his prophetic gesture defends the true order which is found in the Law and the Prophets.

            Today, all this must give us, as Christians, food for thought. Is our faith sufficiently pure and open so that starting from it “pagans”, the people today who are seeking and who have their questions, can intuit the light of the one God, associate themselves in the atriums of faith with our prayers and, with their questions, perhaps also become worshippers? Does the awareness that greed is idolatry enter our heart too and the praxis of our life? Do we not perhaps in various ways let idols enter even the world of our faith? Are we disposed to let ourselves be ceaselessly purified by the Lord, letting him expel from us and the Church all that is contrary to him?

            In the temple’s purification, however, it was a matter of more than fighting abuses. A new time in history was foretold. What Jesus had announced to the Samaritan woman concerning her question about true worship is now beginning: “The hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him” (Jn 4: 23). The time when animals were sacrificed to God was over. Animal sacrifices were only a substitute, a nostalgic gesture for the true way to worship God. The Letter to the Hebrews on the life and work of Jesus uses a sentence from Psalm 40[39]: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me” (Heb 10: 5). Christ’s body, Christ himself, enters to take the place of bloody sacrifices and food offerings. Only “love to the end”, only love for human beings given totally to God is true worship, true sacrifice. Worshipping in spirit and truth means adoring in communion with the One who is Truth; adoring in communion with his Body, in which the Holy Spirit reunites us.

            The Evangelists tell us that in Jesus’ trial false witnesses were produced who asserted that Jesus had said: “I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days” (Mt 26: 61). In front of Christ hanging on the Cross some people, taunting him, referred to these same words: “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!” (Mt 27: 40). The correct version of these words as Jesus spoke them has been passed on to us by John in his account of the purification of the temple. In response to the request for a sign by which Jesus could justify himself for such an action, the Lord replied: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2: 18ff.). John adds that, thinking back to this event of the Resurrection, the disciples realized that Jesus had been referring to the Temple of his Body (cf. 2: 21ff.). It is not Jesus who destroys the temple; it is left to destruction by the attitude of those who transformed it from being a place for the encounter of all peoples with God into a “den of robbers”, a haven for their dealings. But as always, beginning with Adam’s fall, human failure becomes the opportunity for us to be even more committed to love of God. The time of the temple built of stone, the time of animal sacrifices, is now passed: the fact that the Lord now expels the merchants does not only prevent an abuse but points to God’s new way of acting. The new Temple is formed: Jesus Christ himself, in whom God’s love descends upon human beings. He, by his life, is the new and living Temple. He who passed through the Cross and was raised is the living space of spirit and life in which the correct form of worship is made. Thus, the purification of the temple, as the culmination of Jesus’ solemn entry into Jerusalem, is at the same time the sign of the impending ruin of the edifice and the promise of the new Temple; a promise of the kingdom of reconciliation and love which, in communion with Christ, is established beyond any boundary.

            St Matthew, whose Gospel we are hearing this year, mentions at the end of the account of Palm Sunday, after the purification of the temple, two further, small events that once again have a prophetic character and once again make clear to us Jesus’ true will. Immediately after Jesus’ words on the house of prayer for all the people, the Evangelist continues: “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them”. In addition, Matthew tells us that children cried out in the temple the acclamation of the pilgrims at the city gates: “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Mt 21: 14ff.). Jesus counters the animal trade and fiscal affairs with his healing goodness. This is the temple’s true purification. He does not come as a destroyer; he does not come with the revolutionary’s sword. He comes with the gift of healing. He dedicates himself to those who, because of their ailments, were driven to the end of their life and to the margins of society.

            Jesus shows God as the One who loves and his power as the power of love. Thus, he tells us what will always be part of the correct worship of God: healing, serving and the goodness that cures.

            And then there are children who pay homage to Jesus as the Son of David and acclaim him the Hosanna. Jesus had said to his disciples that to enter the Kingdom of God it was essential to become once again like children. He himself, who embraces the whole world, made himself little in order to come to our aid, to draw us to God. In order to recognize God, we must give up the pride that dazzles us, that wants to drive us away from God as though God were our rival. To encounter God it is necessary to be able to see with the heart. We must learn to see with a child’s heart, with a youthful heart not hampered by prejudices or blinded by interests. Thus, it is in the lowly who have such free and open hearts and recognize Jesus, that the Church sees her own image, the image of believers of all ages.

            Dear friends, let us join at this moment the procession of the young people of that time – a procession that winds through the whole of history. Together with young people across the world let us go forth to meet Jesus. Let us allow ourselves to be guided toward God by him, to learn from God himself the right way to be human beings. Let us thank God with him because with Jesus, Son of David, he has given us a space of peace and reconciliation that embraces the world with the Holy Eucharist. Let us pray to him that we too may become, with him and starting from him, messengers of his peace, adorers in spirit and truth, so that his Kingdom may increase in us and around us. Amen.

© Copyright 2008 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Message For Lent: Pope Benedict XVI

1. Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favor of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion, mirroring what already took place in the early Church. In his Letters, Saint Paul speaks of this in regard to the collection for the Jerusalem community (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15, 25-27).

2. According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, material goods bear a social value, according to the principle of their universal destination (cf. n. 2404)

In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. In the face of the multitudes, who, lacking everything, suffer hunger, the words of Saint John acquire the tone of a ringing rebuke: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” (1 Jn 3,17). In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.

3. The Gospel highlights a typical feature of Christian almsgiving: it must be hidden: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” Jesus asserts, “so that your alms may be done in secret” (Mt 6,3-4). Just a short while before, He said not to boast of one’s own good works so as not to risk being deprived of the heavenly reward (cf. Mt 6,1-2). The disciple is to be concerned with God’s greater glory. Jesus warns: “In this way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5,16). Everything, then, must be done for God’s glory and not our own. This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbor, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the center of attention. If, in accomplishing a good deed, we do not have as our goal God’s glory and the real well being of our brothers and sisters, looking rather for a return of personal interest or simply of applause, we place ourselves outside of the Gospel vision. In today’s world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross, gave His entire self for us. How could we not thank God for the many people who silently, far from the gaze of the media world, fulfill, with this spirit, generous actions in support of one’s neighbor in difficulty? There is little use in giving one’s personal goods to others if it leads to a heart puffed up in vainglory: for this reason, the one, who knows that God “sees in secret” and in secret will reward, does not seek human recognition for works of mercy.

4. In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (cf. Acts 20,35). When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (cf. 2 Cor 5,15). Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbor in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy. Our Father in heaven rewards our almsgiving with His joy. What is more: Saint Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins: “Charity,” he writes, “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4,8). As the Lenten liturgy frequently repeats, God offers to us sinners the possibility of being forgiven. The fact of sharing with the poor what we possess disposes us to receive such a gift. In this moment, my thought turns to those who realize the weight of the evil they have committed and, precisely for this reason, feel far from God, fearful and almost incapable of turning to Him. By drawing close to others through almsgiving, we draw close to God; it can become an instrument for authentic conversion and reconciliation with Him and our brothers.

5. Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo forthrightly recommends: “Never keep an account of the coins you give, since this is what I always say: if, in giving alms, the left hand is not to know what the right hand is doing, then the right hand, too, should not know what it does itself” (Detti e pensieri, Edilibri, n. 201). In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of her poverty, cast into the Temple treasury “all she had to live on” (Mk 12,44). Her tiny and insignificant coin becomes an eloquent symbol: this widow gives to God not out of her abundance, not so much what she has, but what she is. Her entire self.

We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus’ passion and death, who, as Saint Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8,9); He gave His entire self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving a part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarized perhaps in the one commandment of love? The Lenten practice of almsgiving thus becomes a means to deepen our Christian vocation. In gratuitously offering himself, the Christian bears witness that it is love and not material richness that determines the laws of his existence. Love, then, gives almsgiving its value; it inspires various forms of giving, according to the possibilities and conditions of each person.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, Lent invites us to “train ourselves” spiritually, also through the practice of almsgiving, in order to grow in charity and recognize in the poor Christ Himself. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the Apostle Peter said to the cripple who was begging alms at the Temple gate: “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk” (Acts 3,6). In giving alms, we offer something material, a sign of the greater gift that we can impart to others through the announcement and witness of Christ, in whose name is found true life. Let this time, then, be marked by a personal and community effort of attachment to Christ in order that we may be witnesses of His love. May Mary, Mother and faithful Servant of the Lord, help believers to enter the “spiritual battle” of Lent, armed with prayer, fasting and the practice of almsgiving, so as to arrive at the celebration of the Easter Feasts, renewed in spirit. With these wishes, I willingly impart to all my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 30 October 2007

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2007 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Looking Back And Pressing Forward For Christ: Reflections of an advocate for life in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon

From his perch of absolute human torment, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man listened to the men beneath his cross. “Save yourself,” they said. ‘Come down from the Cross!'” He did not until after all was accomplished: for their sakes…

In many ways today, this same scenario is being carried out in the lives of all those who have chosen to remain with Jesus on their cross. And they themselves hear the very same: ‘Come down from your cross.’ “Save yourself, but, leave us alone.”

This is particularly true of all men and women of goodwill in this age who carry the cross ofdec28_massacre_innocents1.jpg convincing the world concerning the grave sin of abortion. If one has spent time protesting outside of any abortion clinic, stood on a street corner with a sign, or simply marched for life–that one has known and experienced in some form derision. Yes, the words they sometimes hear are surely different, but, the meaning is the same, “Come down from your cross.” “leave us alone.” “This cross is senseless to us.”

And it is, presently.

Below I offer the reflections of a pro lifer found in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon. I was attracted to her article not so much because of her complaints, (for there are always aches, pains, irritation and turmoil when one is carrying their cross) but, instead for the simple reason of her perserverance for the sake of love and life–and it is the same love of Christ Jesus hanging on the cross in whom she perserveres for the sake of life, for both know that in order for one to enter life the commandments must be kepted… On earth as it is in heaven.

From the beginning, the living Tradition of the Churchas shown by the Didache, the most ancient non-biblical Christian writing–categorically repeated the commandment “You shall not kill”: “There are two ways, a way of life and a way of death; there is a great difference between them… In accordance with the precept of the teaching: you shall not kill…you shall not put a child to death by abortion nor kill it once it is born…. The way of death is this: …they show no compassion for the poor, they do not suffer with the suffering, they do not acknowledge their Creator, they kill their children and by abortion cause God’s creatures to perish; they drive away the needy, oppress the suffering, they are advocates of the rich and unjust judges of the poor; they are filled with every sin. May you be able to stay ever apart, O children, from all these sins!” 

Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II 03.25.95.

Dear Advocates for Life,

As we look back on 2007 we thank the Dear Lord for giving us grace to persevere through many obstacles.  We remember:

  • how at the 2007 Session of the legislature the Catholics were poorly represented by Roger Martin the lobbyist who had voted to legalize abortion as a legislator in 1969. 
  • how the Catholic hospitals didn’t squawk at the thought of giving “Emergency Contraception” to women as matter of course if they said they were sexually assaulted, with no definition of “assault”.
  • how Our chancellor, Mary Jo Tully, is the on the Ethics Board at these hospitals didn’t submit testimony to fight for the life of children at the earliest stage.
  • how the Archdiocese of Portland didn’t fight for our right to vote on homosexual issues
  • how the Archdiocese has still not disclosed the letter from Bishop Vigneron from Oakland regarding the scandalous homosexual workshop at St. Philip Neri parish with Father Jim Schexnayder.
  • how the Justice and Peace Office has tens of thousands of dollars in her budget and the Respect Life Office has none.
  • how our battle against Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon participating churches and them allowing “masses” for Toni Tortorilla, the “first ordained woman” (impossible, VOCAL) in the Archdiocese and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council still saying that we should be involved with this pro-abortion/pro-homosexual group of Churches.

GOOD NEWS – Our faith in Jesus Christ and His Church won many battles in this spiritual warfare. 

  • The embryonic stem cell/cloning bill lost by one vote.  Even though Oregon Catholic Conference didn’t lobby against this, Oregon Right to Life fought hard and had their conference speaker Father Tad Pacholczyk from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, stay two more days and change the course of this vote.
  • The two referenda petition drives for the right to vote on “Domestic Partnerships” and “sexual behavior/activity as a protected minority status” truly succeeded. Thousands of Catholics, Protestants from different backgrounds came together to gather 130,000 signatures, all voluntary, in a true ecumenical effort, and NO DEBT.
  • Sidenote — February 1st a judge will determine whether the “domestic partnerships” will be voted on without another signature drive…the signature drive to put “sexual activity/behavior” with no definition WILL go forward.  So….keep praying.
  • The Right to Life is still alive and well in the pews.  Even though this is not a top priority with the Archdiocese, the Life is Sacred conference coming up on January 26th at the Expo Center will have thousands of lovers of life gathering.  And the churches that have respect life offices are doing such good works to save lives.
  • We had a very successful Justice in Pieces series of workshops with Oregon Catholics understanding how dangerous to our souls the Saul Alinsky/Chicago/Portland connection is.  We are learning and acting on this education.  For a CD contact me and I’ll send it out….

This year is one where we will need more perseverance aka”; persisting in anything undertaken; maintaining a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. ‘ 

We really need to persist in prayer for our Archdiocese. 

On a personal note, I was “dismissed” from a volunteer position, by the Archbishop,  with the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women as Church Commission Chairman.  I had been with these great ladies for almost five years and did the prayers for priests in the Sentinel each month for almost four years. 

I kept VOCAL separate from the ACCW in many ways….I respected this relationship and didn’t misuse it.  However, the Archbishop isn’t happy with me and there was mention of the Campaign for Human Development in the “dismissal” conversation by the president of ACCW and my problems with the CHD.

There were already problems for me with ACCW because, in my opinion, we were not respected for our opinions.  For example, our evaluation of the “Safe environments” programs that our children are subjected to. A four month ad hoc committee led all ladies to submit a letter to the Archbishop stating this was not appropriate for the children. He fell back on information by Sister Rita Rae Schneider, who was very psychological, but not maternally protective and dismissed our concerns.  Mom’s know best.  There just aren’t any in leadership in the Archdiocese that I can think of.

And remember when I was “escorted out” of the Pastoral Center when I mentioned a meeting with the School Superintendent, Bob Mizia, to discuss an opt out form that Cathy Shannon, the Safe Environments director said was not a parental option in all cases.   So…..let’s keep on our knees.  For me too please. 

Remember, we are having a Spring talk by Donna Steichen of “Ungodly Rage” fame.  She is just finishing up a new book.  We will have to raise funds, I would think lots, her fee is $1,500 and she needs travel expenses from California and a hotel.  This is a great opportunity and I will have all monies posted with donors initials on the VOCAL website www.vocalnews.org so you’ll know where we are and what we need.

I pray that you had a wonderful Christmas Season and Happy New Year.  It’s going to be a good one serving Jesus Christ and His Church.God Bless you and yours,
Carolyn
www.vocalnews.org

On Sunday April 24th 1994, Pope John Paul II recommended this prayer be used by all Catholics as a prayer for the Church when he said:

‘”May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: ‘Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.“‘

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.