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Gospel message of hope often is taught by the poor, cardinal says

01/02/2018 - 3:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In his ministry as archbishop of Manila and in his travels for Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said he is reminded of the true meaning of hope by people living in situations the world would see as hopeless.

“The poor know the frustration of dreaming and working hard with not much result,” Cardinal Tagle said. “They are betrayed by persons and institutions. But in their raw poverty, what is left for them is their humanity. They remind all of us that being human is our true and only wealth.”

While anyone can be tempted to see the fulfillment of hope in accomplishments, improved numbers and bigger bank balances, the poor celebrate the gift of life and praise the giver of life, the cardinal said in a written interview in early January.

“This is the secret of their enduring and persistent hope, which those who enjoy comfortable living, yet complain unceasingly, should discover,” he said.

Cardinal Tagle, 60, will talk and preach about hope with parish, school and diocesan leaders at the opening session and Mass of the Mid-Atlantic Congress in Baltimore Feb. 15-17.

Pride and self-sufficiency lie on the opposite end from the hope the poor witness to, he said. “Of the many challenges to hope, I consider pride the most dangerous. Pride weakens faith that gives assurance to hope. Pride makes me think I can do better than God. Pride makes me place my hope in myself. Pride makes me a pseudo-savior.”

“Whether personal or institutional, pride depletes hope,” the cardinal said.

In addition to serving as archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas Internationals, Cardinal Tagle also is president of the Catholic Biblical Federation.

Of course, the Bible is the book of hope, and “there are many Scripture verses or prayers that rekindle hope in me,” he said.

“But one that I ‘run to’ regularly is John 21:1-14,” which tells the story of the disciples’ miraculous catch of fish.

The cardinal said he often turns to the story, and “when I have labored hard and long but still end up not catching anything, I know the risen Lord is close by, watching compassionately and calling my attention so that he could direct my action.”

The story also brings consolation, he said, because it is a reminder that mission and ministry are Jesus’ work, and “my role is to work hard under his direction. The catch will be his, but I must be there with other collaborators to see the miracle, to haul the net to shore and to declare, ‘It is the Lord!'”

In that way, he said, “a seemingly hopeless situation becomes a space to return to my humble role and to witness to the true Lord.”

Cardinal Tagle’s Bible probably falls open to that Gospel story on its own. His episcopal motto, “Dominus Est” — “It is the Lord” — is taken from that passage. The Gospel account was the focus of a retreat he facilitated as a priest. And it was the subject of his homily in 2011 when he was installed as the archbishop of Manila.

Moving to Manila after 10 years as bishop of his home diocese, Imus, he said in the installation homily that the lesson of the passage — that the Lord directs the catch — is a message of hope for the church community as well as for individuals.

“The Lord guards his church. He keeps watch with us on those long nights of confusion and helplessness in mission,” the new archbishop said in 2011. “When, in spite of our good intentions and efforts, there are still the multitude of hungry people we cannot feed, homeless people we cannot shelter, battered women and children we cannot protect, cases of corruption and injustice that we cannot remedy, the long night of the disciples in the middle of the sea continues in us.”

The experience of the long night should make Christians “grow in compassion toward our neighbors whose lives seem to be a never ending dark night,” he said, and it should remind Christians that even when things are not working out as planned, the Lord is near.

The Gospel passage also is a call “to follow the Lord in our mission not individually, but together as the disciples did,” he said. “Mission is an event of the church. We will be together in failure, but we will also be together in listening to the Spirit, in beholding God’s miracles and in hauling the nets to shore.”

The bishops, priests, religious and laity share one mission, he said at his installation. “When we take different boats and even compete against each other to get the better portion of the catch for our own teams, we are not engaging in mission. Divisiveness and destructive competition will only help sink the boat.”

Now, after six years as archbishop and five years as a cardinal, he told Catholic News Service that “the faith that God is with us, especially in Jesus and in the animating power of the Holy Spirit, gives me hope.”

“The faith that assures me that creation and history are in God’s hands and these hands transform death into life, hatred into forgiveness and darkness into life — this gives me hope,” he said. “The faith that makes me see how people truly cooperate with God’s action in the world through sincere love gives me hope.”

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

For New Year, pope urges help for refugees, respect for life

01/01/2018 - 12:04pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis began the New Year praying the world would demonstrate a marked increase in solidarity and welcome for migrants and refugees.

“Let’s not extinguish the hope in their hearts; let’s not suffocate their hopes for peace,” the pope said Jan. 1 before reciting the Angelus with a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

For the New Year’s celebration of World Peace Day and the feast of Mary, Mother of God, Pope Francis had chosen to focus on migrants and refugees and their yearning for peace.

“For this peace, which is the right of all, many of them are willing to risk their lives in a journey that, in most cases, is long and dangerous and to face trials and suffering,” the pope told an estimated 40,000 people gathered in the square around the Christmas tree and Nativity scene.

Pope Francis said it is important that everyone, including individuals, governments, schools, churches and church agencies, make a commitment to “ensuring refugees, migrants — everyone — a future of peace.”

Entrusting the needs of migrants and refugees to the maternal concern of Mary, the pope led the crowd in reciting a traditional Marian prayer: “Under thy protection we seek refuge, holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our needs, but from all dangers deliver us always, Virgin, Glorious and Blessed.”

Pope Francis had begun the day celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Marian feast, which he said was a celebration of “a magnificent truth about God and about ourselves: From the moment that our Lord became incarnate in Mary, and for all time, he took on our humanity.”

“To call Mary the mother of God reminds us,” he said, that “God is close to humanity, even as a child is close to the mother who bears him in her womb.”

God becoming human in the baby Jesus, the pope said, is an affirmation that human life “is precious and sacred to the Lord,” so “to serve human life is to serve God.”

“All life, from life in the mother’s womb to that of the elderly, the suffering and the sick, and to that of the troublesome and even repellent, is to be welcomed, loved and helped,” he said.

Pope Francis also drew people’s attention to the fact that in the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth, Mary is silent. And the newborn Jesus, obviously, cannot speak.

“We need to remain silent as we gaze upon the crib,” he said. “Pondering the crib, we discover anew that we are loved; we savor the real meaning of life. As we look on in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart.

“May his lowliness lay low our pride; his poverty challenge our pomp; his tender love touch our hardened hearts,” the pope prayed.

Celebrating evening prayer Dec. 31 and offering thanks to God for the year that was ending, Pope Francis gave a special acknowledgement to people — especially parents and teachers — who are “artisans of the common good,” working to help their families, neighbors and communities each day without fanfare.

But, he said, people also must acknowledge that God gave humanity the year 2017 “whole and sound,” yet “we human beings have in many ways wasted and wounded it with works of death, with lies and injustices. Wars are the flagrant sign of this backsliding and absurd pride. But so are all the small and great offenses against life, truth and solidarity, which cause multiple forms of human, social and environmental degradation.”

The pope also led the midday Angelus prayer Dec. 31, the feast of the Holy Family.

The Sunday Gospel reading recounted Mary and Joseph taking the baby Jesus to the temple “to certify that the child belongs to God and that they are the guardians of his life and not the owners,” the pope said.

Mary and Joseph experience the joy of seeing their son grow in wisdom, grace and strength, the pope said. “This is mission to which the family is called: to create the best conditions that will allow for the harmonious and full growth of children, so that they can live a life that is good, worthy of God and constructive for the world.”

Growth and rebirth are possibilities open to every family, he said. “Whenever families, even those wounded and marked by frailty, failure and difficulty, return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and unimagined possibilities open up.”

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope prints postcard illustrating the horror of war

01/01/2018 - 10:09am

IMAGE: CNS/Joseph Roger O’Donnell via Vatican Press Office

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As 2017 was drawing to a close, the horrors of war and people’s yearnings for peace were on Pope Francis’ mind and in his prayers.

In an unusual move late Dec. 30, the pope had the Vatican press office and Vatican media distribute a copy of a famous photograph from the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

The photo shows a young boy, about 10 years old, carrying his dead little brother on his back. The boy is taking his brother to be cremated.

On the back of the card, Pope Francis wrote, “The fruit of war” and signed his name.

Below his signature, the pope explained that the photo was taken by U.S. Marine Corps photographer Joseph Roger O’Donnell. After the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, O’Donnell was assigned to document the scenes.

“The sadness of the child is expressed only by his lips, bitten and oozing blood,” the pope wrote.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, printed a copy of the photograph and pope’s explanation on the back page of its edition for Jan. 1, the Catholic Church’s World Peace Day.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Introducing Nick Hardesty Commentary: Seize the Moment

01/01/2018 - 4:23am

Your faith can come alive at any moment of your day.

“Daddy, why is the priest dressed like Jesus?” your son asks you during Mass.

You freeze. No one’s ever asked you that before.

What do you do? You can shush him, or you can teach him something about the Catholic faith. The same opportunity arises when you overhear a co-worker criticize what you believe; when you have a moment alone with a friend who is making bad decisions; when you’re watching TV with your daughter and you see a commercial that degrades women; or even when your spouse asks you, quite matter-of-factly, why he or she should care about God at all.

In all of those moments you have a decision to make: Do I say something, or do I remain silent? Do I seize the moment, or do I let it pass me by?

Seize the moment – that’s what this column will help you to do.

Too often Catholics say nothing in the face of questions and challenges. We have grown to believe that it is socially unacceptable to speak about and defend our faith in public. The funny thing is, the atheists, the Protestants, the talking heads on TV – none of these people miss an opportunity to tell us what they believe. So what are we afraid of? Even when we are willing to give an answer, we don’t always know what that answer is.

What if you were able to bring an authentically Catholic perspective to current events? What if you were able to answer the questions of your children, co-workers, and friends? What if you were able to separate truth from error in the messages that television, music, and movies are constantly feeding us? What if you were able to talk about your faith without feeling afraid? Wouldn’t that be something new!

I am offering you the opportunity to be a catechist, but let’s not call it that. The “c-word” is pretty scary for most people, and I can see why. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of a room full of people and formally teach them the Catholic faith. It takes boldness to be a catechist.

Perhaps this column will inspire you to take up that noble vocation. I hope you do. The church needs more dynamic and passionate catechists in our parishes and schools. But, you should also know that catechesis is not the exclusive occupation of “the professionals.” You don’t even need a Theology degree to do it. As St. Pope St. John Paul II reminded us, “Catechesis always has been and always will be a work for which the whole church must feel responsible.” We are all called to teach, to share what we believe with others.

Catechesis is also not restricted to the classroom. This work can take place anywhere: in line at the grocery store (the magazine rack alone is full of opportunities!), during your lunch break at work, as you listen to music with friends, or while on Facebook debating the news of the day. We become catechists any time we turn a question, challenge, or cultural interaction into an opportunity to communicate the teachings of the church.

Our lives are filled with these moments. Let’s seize them. Let’s be the bold Catholics we are called to be. Walk with me on this journey and together we can become honest-to-God moment-seizers. It sounds a little extreme, I know, but it’s the task set before us all and it’s not as hard as we often make it out to be.

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2018

01/01/2018 - 12:09am

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square Dec. 18 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA)

Pope Francis’s prayer intentions for January:

Evangelization: Religious Minorities in Asia That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.

Looking Back in Pictures the year 2017

12/31/2017 - 12:23am

2017 will be a year remembered for many things, at The Catholic Telegraph we look back at JOY in 2017!

The annual New Year's plunge in Fort Loramie began 2017. (Courtesy Photo)The annual New Year’s plunge in Fort Loramie began 2017. (Courtesy Photo) Pilgrims from many places ascend to the summit at Holy Cross Immaculata. (Greg Hartman/CT Photo)Pilgrims from many places ascend to the summit at Holy Cross Immaculata. (Greg Hartman/CT Photo) From Left to Right Craig Best, Jarred Kohn, Andrew Smith, Jacob Willig (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)From Left to Right Craig Best, Jarred Kohn, Andrew Smith, Jacob Willig (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Deacon Mr. David Doseck with parents John and Teresa preparing for Ordination 2017 (Ct Photo/Greg Hartman)Deacon Mr. David Doseck with parents John and Teresa preparing for Ordination 2017 (Ct Photo/Greg Hartman) Eucharistic Prayer during Ordination Mass (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Eucharistic Prayer during Ordination Mass (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Marian Procession begins led by Fr. Anthony Dattilo and St. Catharine of Siena Westwood Grade School First Communicants. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Marian Procession begins led by Fr. Anthony Dattilo and St. Catharine of Siena Westwood Grade School First Communicants. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Dominicans direct us spiritually and help us to park our car. (CT/Photo Greg Hartman)Dominicans direct us spiritually and help us to park our car. (CT/Photo Greg Hartman) Let's get this to spin fast! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Let’s get this to spin fast! (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Groups began their night in prayer before takin it to the streets. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Groups began their night in prayer before takin it to the streets. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Totus Tuus group at St. Margaret-St. John (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Totus Tuus group at St. Margaret-St. John (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Fr. Alexander Witt arrives at the foot of the steps at the Athenauem of Ohio. (CT Photo/Greg HartmanFr. Alexander Witt arrives at the foot of the steps at the Athenauem of Ohio. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Youth Retreat was held at The Athenaeum of Ohio (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Youth Retreat was held at The Athenaeum of Ohio (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Celebrating the 175th Anniversary Mass were Fr. Lawrence Juarez, C.O., Fr. Jon-Paul Bevak, C.O., and Fr. Adrian Hilton C.O. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Celebrating the 175th Anniversary Mass were Fr. Lawrence Juarez, C.O., Fr. Jon-Paul Bevak, C.O., and Fr. Adrian Hilton C.O. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Greeting the faithful at the Rural Farm Mass 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Greeting the faithful at the Rural Farm Mass 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Bishop Binzer presents Carol & Richard Stevie with the Faith in Education Award. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Bishop Binzer presents Carol & Richard Stevie with the Faith in Education Award. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Father Tom Wray and his wife Janet on a Ferris Wheel in Barcelona Spain at the mountain of Tibidabo (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Father Tom Wray and his wife Janet on a Ferris Wheel in Barcelona Spain at the mountain of Tibidabo (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Bishop Binzer and Irish priests after the English speaking Mass at Lourdes France, September 29, 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Bishop Binzer and Irish priests after the English speaking Mass at Lourdes France, September 29, 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Bishop Binzer celebrates Mass at the Grotto in Lourdes France (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Bishop Binzer celebrates Mass at the Grotto in Lourdes France (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Father Jan Schmidt at the Basilica of the Pilar in Zaragosa Spain (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Father Jan Schmidt at the Basilica of the Pilar in Zaragosa Spain (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Bishop Binzer celebrating Mass at Fatima in Portugal (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Bishop Binzer celebrating Mass at Fatima in Portugal (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Seminarian Chris Komoroski (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Seminarian Chris Komoroski at Theology on Tap (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Groundbreaking for the addition to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary, November 2, 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Groundbreaking for the addition to Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, November 2, 2017 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Deacon Royce Winters preaching at the Black Catholic History Mass at the University of Dayton (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Deacon Royce Winters preaching at the Black Catholic History Mass at the University of Dayton (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Archbishop Schnurr in prayer at the Statewide Day of Adoration for Vocation (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Archbishop Schnurr in prayer at the Statewide Day of Adoration for Vocation (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Though he was on The Great American Baking Show, Father Kyle watches with those gathered the outcome in the first episode. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Though he was on The Great American Baking Show, Father Kyle watches with those gathered the outcome in the first episode. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Joy of Christmas in the wonderful voices of children. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Joy of Christmas in the wonderful voices of children. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Consecration of the Blood of Christ (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Consecration of the Blood of Christ (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Grotto bathed in light at Guardian Angels. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Grotto bathed in light at Guardian Angels. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A glorious sunset was the setting for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A glorious sunset was the setting for Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

 

Fr. Endres A Question of Faith: Asking for mercy at Mass

12/30/2017 - 9:00am

Q: At the beginning of Mass during the penitential act, the priest/deacon asks for God’s mercy on behalf of the people, but in doing so he never mentions the sins for which we need mercy. Is it allowable to mention specific sins at this time?

The penitential act at the beginning of Mass provides an opportunity to call to mind our sinfulness, yet the prayer, as you note, does not give voice to any particular sins. Instead, the act invites interior reflection on the individual’s need for forgiveness and provides a reminder that Christ conquered sin and death. It allows for a humble preparation of the mind and heart to actively participate in the Mass.

To this end, the penitential act takes a variety of forms with differing emphases. The forms of the act include: 1) the Confiteor (“I confess to almighty God …”); 2) a dialogue between priest and people that ends, “Lord, show us your mercy and love/ And grant us your salvation”; and 3) the most familiar form: three mercy invocations followed by “Lord, have mercy / Christ, have mercy / Lord, have mercy.”

In the Confiteor, one’s personal responsibility for sin is emphasized. In the second form, we ask succinctly for God’s mercy. In the last form, which can be quite varied (for example, “You were sent to heal the contrite, Lord have mercy; You came to call sinners, Christ have mercy; You plead for us at the right hand of the Father, Lord have mercy, etc.), we acknowledge God’s saving power through Jesus. In each case, a prayer of absolution concludes the penitential act.

The prayer of absolution, “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life,” differs from the prayer that concludes the sacrament of confession and does not have the same effect. Though the prayers of the Mass do remove lesser, venial sins, more serious sin should be taken to confession.

The penitential act has developed over time. In the early church, specific sins could be named. The Confiteor – the only form of the penitential act previous to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council – grew out of the penitential practices of monks that had included an acknowledgement of particular sins. By the twelfth century, the naming of specific sins was replaced by a more general reminder of man’s sinfulness.

In the current practice, the penitential act is meant to be a general confession of sins. During this part of the Mass, however, the desire to make a quick examination of conscience is nevertheless a good thing. When entering into the Mass, it is appropriate to call to mind those thoughts, words, and actions that weaken our relationship with God and with one another. Mindfulness of certain personal sins could be done privately at the “brief pause” after the introduction of the penitential act. However, for the priest to name common sins out loud would be contrary to the purpose of this brief section of the Mass.

At the beginning of Mass, this general acknowledgement of sins is important for us, for as John says, “If we acknowledge our sins [to the Lord], he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” (1 John 1:9).

Catholic swimmer Katie Ledecky named AP Female Athlete of the Year

12/29/2017 - 3:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tamas Kovacs, EPA

By Kelly Sankowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Associated Press named Katie Ledecky the Female Athlete of the Year Dec. 26, after balloting by U.S. editors and news directors.

Ledecky, a graduate of Little Flower School and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, received 351 points in the vote, placing her ahead of tennis star Serena Williams, who received 343 points. She was the eighth female swimmer to earn the honor and the first since Amy Van Dyken in 1996.

The vote reflected Ledecky’s dominance in the July 2017 world championships in Budapest, Hungary, where she earned five gold medals and one silver medal.

Ledecky first entered the world stage as a 15-year-old in the 2012 London Olympics, the summer after her freshman year at Stone Ridge. In that competition, she surprised people around the world by winning a gold medal in the women’s 800-meter freestyle and finishing the race in record time. In 2016, she returned to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and won gold in the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle races, gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay, and silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Ledecky is known for setting lofty goals for herself and achieving them, working hard and taking part in grueling workout schedules.

Another part of her routine, she told the Catholic Standard archdiocesan newspaper prior to the 2016 Olympics, is praying before races.

“I do say a prayer — or two — before any race,” Ledecky said. “The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me.”

Now a sophomore at Stanford University, Ledecky also told the Catholic Standard that attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington helped make her the person she is today.

“I received an excellent, faith-filled education at both schools. Having the opportunity to attend academically rigorous schools has facilitated my interest in the world and in serving others, and has enriched my life so that it is not solely focused on my swimming and athletics,” she said.

She said going to these schools was also important to her swimming because they challenged her and broadened her perspective and “allowed me to use my mind in ways that take me beyond just thinking about swim practices, swim meets and sports.”

In March 2017, Ledecky became the youngest-ever inductee in the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, joining other esteemed women such as Harriet Tubman, Rachel Carson, Clara Barton, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Now, Ledecky is preparing for this coming March, when she will compete in the NCAA championships with her Stanford teammates. During the last week of December, she is traveling with the team to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for high-altitude training.

After competing in the 2016 Olympics and before leaving for college, Ledecky visited her alma maters to answer students’ questions and show them the medals that she had earned. With those school visits, she said she hoped to make an impact.

During the Olympics, she said she was “just praying to do my very best to represent my country.”

“I always just use my faith to think, ‘I have been given this gift, and I want to use it to the best of my ability,'” she said, adding that she doesn’t want it to end there. She hopes her accomplishments will “inspire somebody or make an impact of some sort beyond just getting a good time or getting a gold medal.”

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Sankowski is a reporter for the Catholic Standard, archdiocesan newspaper of Washington.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Complex world needs clear essentials of Gospel, pope tells theologians

12/29/2017 - 3:15pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an increasingly complex world of unprecedented scientific and technological challenges, theologians must communicate what is essential about life and help Christians proclaim God’s merciful, saving grace, Pope Francis told a group of Italian theologians.

The theologians’ task requires being “faithful and anchored” to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and continuing the council’s focus on the church “letting itself be enriched by the perennial newness of Christ’s Gospel,” he said.

Speaking Dec. 29 at the Vatican to members of the Italian Theological Association, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary, the pope said theologians and other church workers must always refer back to Vatican II where the church recognized its responsibility to “proclaim the Gospel in a new way.”

Such a task is done not by changing the message, but by communicating the perennial message with “faithful creativity” to a world experiencing rapid transformations, he said.

These changes and challenges require that the church, and theologians in particular, believe that the Gospel “can continue to touch the women and men of today” and work to clearly show people what lies at the heart of the Gospel.

This theological effort of showing what is essential is “indispensable” in a highly complex world of unprecedented scientific and technological advancement, and in a culture where “distorted views of the very heart of the Gospel” can sneak in and spread, he said.

“There needs to be a theology that helps all Christians proclaim and show, most of all, the salvific face of God, the merciful God, especially given the presence of some unprecedented challenges that involve humanity today, such as: the environmental crisis; the development of neuroscience or technology that can alter human beings; ever greater social inequalities or the migration of whole peoples; and relativism in theory and practice.”

He said theology must develop from the work of women and men working together and supporting each other as a community, not as rivals; working to serve the universal church and all particular churches; and to “reimagine the church so that it may conform to the Gospel that it must proclaim.”

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

NET Ministries: Meet Kylie

12/29/2017 - 10:56am

In Today’s Video, meet Kylie of NET Ministries

NET Ministries || Kylie Holzknecht from Spirit Juice Studios on Vimeo.

Archbishop Schnurr for January

12/29/2017 - 8:48am
Archbishop M. Dennis Schnurr addresses the group. CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard SEEK THE LORD
by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Christians from the earliest days have always defended the defenseless, bringing God’s love to the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. No one is more vulnerable than a child in the womb. In America today, about one in five pregnancies end in abortion. As Christians, we can never simply accept this as a regrettable fact of life.

Later this month, on Jan. 19, I will join hundreds of young people and adults from throughout the archdiocese at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. I do this whenever my schedule allows because I believe the march is an important witness for life. Its specific purpose is to advocate for legal protection of the unborn, restoring what was taken away by judicial fiat of the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973.

Changing the law is a crucial step in changing the culture – from a culture of death to a culture of life. “The culture of life means respect for nature and protection of God’s work of creation,” St. John Paul II said in 1993 during World Youth Day in Denver. “In a special way, it means respect for human life from the first moment of conception until its natural end.”

Emphasizing concern for the most vulnerable lives by no means undercuts respect for all life. In fact, it is just the opposite: Devaluing life at its earliest stages devalues life at all stages. As Pope Francis stated so well in The Joy of the Gospel: “defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.” (213)

Respect for life is not a “Catholic issue” or even a “Christian issue.” Defending the life in its earliest stages, thus protecting the right that makes all other human rights possible, is a matter of social justice. It is for this reason that the church asserts the legitimate role of the political process in protecting life in the womb. Remember that when you vote. The bishops of the United States have written: “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

The Church also embraces pregnant mothers in crisis situations and those who have had abortions. Extending loving, non-judgmental support to such women is also pro-life. Problem pregnancy centers and the church’s Project Rachel do just that. Our Office of Respect Life Ministries assists these apostolates, partly with the help of your contributions to the archdiocese’s Respect Life collection each October.

Marching, advocating, contributing, voting, and volunteering are all ways to witness for life. Most of all, however, we must pray. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In particular, Jan. 22 is a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children in all dioceses of the United States. (Learn more at USCCB.org; search “January 22 prayer”)

Building a culture of life is part of the DNA of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In addition to the students who take part in the March for Life each January, many more engage throughout the year in service projects to help the poor, the elderly, and the ill.

Catholic schools are special, and that is why we will celebrate Catholic Schools Week nationally from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3. On Jan. 29, I will be delighted to once again answer questions live from our high school students across the archdiocese. This will take place at LaSalle High School and be livestreamed on the internet.

Catholic education has been strong in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for almost 200 years. I am grateful to the teachers, administrators, and volunteers who help to make our Catholic schools such wonderful institutions of learning and spiritual formation.

 

Celebrate all 12 days (+1) of Christmas

12/28/2017 - 6:00am

Christmas doesn’t begin on Dec. 25, it starts on Dec. 25 — and ends on Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation. But the “Big 12” days are the 12 leading up to Epiphany. This year, as Epiphany has been translated, or moved, to Sunday as the official day to celebrate in church, there’s an extra day as well! Celebrate them all with our handy guide: Click here to download a PDF file and see the companion story for recipes, music, and more.

Recipes from Father Kyle Schnippel and Jessie Salzbrun

12/28/2017 - 6:00am
The 2017 cast of “The Great American Baking Show” included Cincinnati diocesan priest Father Kyle Schnippel (back row, third from left) and Cincinnati app developer Jessie Salzbrun (front row, third from left).

Although ABC cancelled the final four episodes of “The Great American Baking Show” because one of the judges was accused of lewd conduct at a previous time, Cincinnati area fans were able to see two locals — Father Kyle Schnippel and app developer Jessie Salzbrun — compete. Father Schnippel shared this recipe for Linzer cookies, and Salzbrun shared the recipe for the caramel sauce she used on the cake that helped her win the title of “star baker” for the cake episode.

 

Linger cookies baked and photographed by Father Kyle Schnapps (courtesy photo) Father Kyle Schnippel’s Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies are a buttery treat covered with a dusting of powdered sugar, what’s not to love? This recipe has a touch of mint in the cookie itself (a little goes a long way!) to balance out the sweetness of the strawberry filling. The cookies are dye cut and that assembled into a sandwich cookie to make a pleasing effect on the eye before a (hopefully!) pleasing effect on the tongue!

Strawberry Mint Linzer Cookies

Ingredient List:

Cookie batter
250 g butter
125 g sugar
4 g salt
2 eggs
4 g mint extract
375 g flour

filling:
288 g strawberries
100 g sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
powdered sugar

Directions:

  • mix to combine butter, sugar, salt; not to full ‘cream’ stage
  • add eggs and mint extract (a little goes a long way!)
  • mix in flour until consistent
  • place dough in freezer for 30 minutes or in refrigerator for 4 hours
  • meanwhile, cut tops off strawberries and add filling ingredients to medium sauce pan
  • bring to boil for 15 minutes
  • strain into small bowl with a fine mesh metal strainer and cool to room temperature
  • Once dough is chilled to solidify butter, roll out cookie dough onto baking mat
  • Using a dye, cut cookies (tops and bottoms; identical shapes, tops have a design cut out of the middle)
  • rechill cookies for 30 minutes on baking sheet; pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • bake for 12 minutes
  • cool, spoon or squeeze bottle filling onto base of cookies
  • cover tops in powdered sugar, place tops on the bottom cookie
A screen shot of Jessie Salzbrun, who works for a Cincinnati app developer, being told by judge Paul Hollywood that she’s “in the wrong business” and should be a baker instead. Jessie Salzbrun’s “World’s Best” Caramel Sauce

Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated until warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened.

Heat over medium while stirring until the sugar syrup is bubbling. Once all the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and brush down sides of pan with water to dissolve any sugar crystals on the side of the pan.

Continue cooking until it turns a deep amber and reaches 340-350 degrees. Immediately remove it from the heat and add the cream. Expect vigorous bubbling!

Once cream is combined, stir in the butter and salt and allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes before stirring in the vanilla extract. Pour onto a jar and set aside to cool or use immediately!

 

12 Days of Christmas Recipes and More

12/28/2017 - 6:00am
 you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." - LK 2 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)“And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” – LK 2 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Our guide to celebrating the 12 days of Christmas (see our January issue or click here to download a PDR file) includes suggestions for how to celebrate all 12 days (plus one, this year) between the Feast of the Nativity and Epiphany. Here are the recipes, prayers, and more:

Day 6: The Feast of the Holy Family

Listen to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Otto Resphigi’s “Flight into Egypt,” from his “Church Windows” suite.

 

Day 9: Feast of Sts Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

Bake St. Basil’s Bread (Vasilopita)
Recipe from from Fr. Deacon Moses at Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, provided by the Byzantine Cultural Center of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Parma, headquartered in Parma, OH:

1  package active dry yeast
3⁄4 cup milk, lukewarm
4 eggs, beaten
zest of 1 orange
3⁄4 cup sugar
4 3/4 cups flour
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon  ground cardamom
1⁄2 cup butter, melted
1  egg, for glaze
½ cup blanched  almonds
1 clean coin

Directions:
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the milk.
Add remainder of milk, eggs, orange rind and sugar.
Sift 3 cups flour, salt and spices into a bowl.
Pour in yeast mixture and stir to blend in flour, gradually adding warm melted butter.
Mix dough until it comes away from sides of the bowl. Turn on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as required.
Knead for about  10 minutes.
Place ball of dough in a clean bowl brushed with melted butter.
Turn dough over to coat top with butter and cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
About 1 ½ hours. Punch down and turn on to lightly floured surface.
Knead lightly and shape into a round loaf.
Fold coin into dough
Place on a large greased baking sheet or in a greased 10 inch deep cake pan.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Glaze with well-beaten egg and arrange blanched almonds.
Bake at 375F for 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked when tested.
If bread browns too quickly place a piece of foil on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Whoever gets the slice with the coin has a year of special blessings. 

 

Day 10: Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Pray the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus:

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of Saints.

V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.

V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Grant, we beg of You, to us who ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed, and never cease praising You.

Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love. R. Amen

Day 11: Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Enjoy gingerbread from a colonial recipe:

Gingerbread from Colonial Williamsburg

1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup melted margarine
½ cup evaporated milk
1 cup unsulfered molasses
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups stone-ground or unbleached flour, unsifted

Combine the sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix well. Add the melted margarine, evaporated milk and molasses. Add the extracts. Mix well. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. The dough should be stiff enough to handle without sticking to fingers. Knead the dough for a smoother texture. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking. When the dough is smooth, roll it out ¼ inch think on a floured surface and cut it into cookies. Bake on floured or greased cookie sheets in a preheated 375 F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The gingerbread is done when they spring back when touched.

Rosca de Reyes (Kings Cake) recipe from the King Arthur Flour Company; courtesy image. Feast of Epiphany

Bake a crown-shaped Three Kings Cake Recipe. The French style is familiar from the New Orleans “King Cake” eaten here for Mardi Gras but in French-speaking countries throughout the Carnival season. The recipe for this Mexican version (Rosca de Reyes) is from the King Arthur Flour Company:

Dough
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3¼ cups all-purpose flour

Filling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup dried mixed fruits
1 tablespoon lemon, orange, or lime zest

Garnish
candied red cherries and/or orange peel
toasted sliced almonds, pecans, cashews, or walnuts
Click here for complete step-by-step instructions.

 

NET Ministries: challenging young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church.

12/27/2017 - 2:06pm

What is National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ministries?

Each year, NET Ministries sends 175 Catholic young adults across the country divided into 16 teams to proclaim the Gospel to Catholic youth through retreat ministry. NET team members (a.k.a. NET missionaries) are powerful Catholic witnesses to Christ. Having conducted more than 32,000 retreats for 1.8 million youth in the past 35 years, NET Ministries knows how to train their missionaries in both Catholic theology and practical retreat skills. These young missionaries, by the time they’ve finished training, have developed the desire for daily personal prayer, and can effectively teach youth to pray. They witness to youth that a relationship with Jesus is not only possible, but indispensable, and will help challenge our young people to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. NET team members evangelize youth relationally on retreats through drama, music, games, talks (catechesis), small groups and prayer ministry, allowing youth to be open that life as a Catholic is exciting and fulfilling.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati Becomes the First “NET Ministries Regional Office” in the United States:

In an effort to have NET retreats available for all parishes and Catholic schools in the Archdiocese during the school year, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati became home to the first “NET Ministries Regional Office” in the country in July of 2014. That means that not only is there a dedicated NET Ministries office and staff now housed in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, but more importantly, NET retreats are made available for schools and parishes any time of the school year, instead of just for one month each year. The regional office also serves as a launching point for NET Ministries’ work in the Eastern Time Zone, with the office scheduling for two other teams traveling throughout the eastern part of the country.

How to Book a NET Ministries Retreat:

The NET Regional Office Office is directed by Mark Hollcraft. He and his staff are ready to help you book and manage your NET retreat now. You can contact the Regional Scheduling Administrator, Abbie Kohler, at Abbiek@netusa.org or call 651.450.6833 x202.

For more information about NET Ministries retreat themes, costs, housing the NET team, etc., visit www.netusa.org/retreats.

Pope: Festivities become a facade when Christ is left out of Christmas

12/27/2017 - 2:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Only when Christ is the focus of the Christmas season do all the colorful lights, carols, special meals and traditions help create a festive and joyous atmosphere, Pope Francis said.

“If we take him away, the lights go out and everything become fake, illusory,” he said at his weekly general audience Dec. 27.

“Without Jesus, there is no Christmas. It’s some other celebration, but it isn’t Christmas,” he said to applause.

Dedicating his audience talk to the true meaning of Christmas as a celebration of Christ’s birth, the pope greeted pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall, which was decorated with a Christmas tree and a life-size Nativity scene.

The creche, the liturgies and the seasonal songs all help the faithful relive today the birth of Christ the savior, he said.

However, especially in Europe, he said, Christmas is being stripped of its true nature “in the name of a false respect for those who are not Christian.” But, often the true motive behind eliminating any reference to the birth of Christ is a desire to “marginalize faith.”

Just as God gave the world his son — born at night to a poor girl in a stable in Bethlehem — he still sends Christ into a world that is enveloped by darkness and slumbers, the pope said.

“And still today we witness the fact that often humanity prefers darkness because people know that light reveals all those actions and thoughts that would shame and prick one’s conscience,” he said. “So, people prefer to stay in the dark and not disturb their erring ways.”

Instead, people are called to be like the shepherds, seeking out that true guiding light, who appears first to those who are marginalized and poor, he said.

“Jesus establishes a friendship with the lowly and despised,” the pope said; he offers hope and encouragement for building a better world, where “there are no longer any people who are turned away, mistreated and destitute.”

“God opened for us the way to a new life, built not on selfishness, but upon love,” he said.

In that context, he said, exchanging gifts on Christmas is a sign of accepting God’s example and teaching: to freely give oneself, one’s love and tenderness to others.

“The true gift for us is Jesus and, like him, we want to be a gift for others,” especially for those who have never experienced any love, care and tenderness in their lives, he said. The Christmas season “encourages us” to do this for others, he added.

At the end of the audience, members of Italy’s “Golden Circus” performed for the pope. After two giant costumed polar bears did a little dance, female acrobats dressed in green, dragon-print leotards balanced high atop one another before a male troupe in fake leopard skins leapt into more gravity-defying poses. A muscular “strong man” bent a piece of metal and gave it to the pope, who thanked him for the present.

He thanked the performers for the show, saying the circus — just like all real art — “always brings us closer to God. You, with your work, with your skill, bring people to God. Thank you for what you do.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Today’s Video: St. John the Evangelist

12/27/2017 - 5:13am

Saint John The Evangelist, who is styled in the gospel, The beloved disciple of Christ,” and is called by the Greeks “The Divine,” was a Galilean, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and younger brother of St. James the Great, with whom he was brought up to the trade of fishing. Today’s Video takes a look at the life of St. John.

Today’s Video: St. Stephen

12/26/2017 - 2:00pm

Today we look at the life of St. Stephen.

Pope prays for world’s suffering children on Christmas

12/25/2017 - 11:44am

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Those who recognize the Lord in the baby Jesus in the manger also should recognize his presence in children suffering today because of war, poverty and immigration, Pope Francis said.

“Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head,” the pope said Dec. 25, praying that people would work together to make the world “more human and more worthy for the children of today and of the future.”

Standing on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on a clear, crisp Christmas day, Pope Francis spoke about the world’s children before formally giving his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

Christmas is a time to live again “the mystery of the God who comes, who assumes our mortal human flesh, and who becomes lowly and poor in order to save us,” the pope said. “And this moves us deeply, for great is the tenderness of our Father.”

The shepherds, who were the first after Mary and Joseph to adore the newborn Jesus, are models for people today, teaching them to not be “scandalized” by his poverty and lowly birth, but to acknowledge him as Lord and learn to recognize his presence in others shivering in the cold, wrapped in rags and without a worthy home, the pope said.

“We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers,” he said. “Through their eyes we see the drama of all those forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy.”

“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said, adding a plea for peace in Jerusalem and for a resumption of negotiations “that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.”

“We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country,” Pope Francis said, adding prayers for a shared commitment to rebuilding the country with full respect for religious and ethnic differences.

Children continue to suffer in Iraq, torn by war and conflict over the past 15 years, he said. And in Yemen, which has been “largely forgotten” by the world, conflict has led to a serious humanitarian crisis with hunger and disease, including a massive cholera outbreak, threatening more than 20 million people — three-quarters of the nation’s population.

Pope Francis also prayed for the children and people of South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.

“We see Jesus in the children worldwide wherever peace and security are threatened by the danger of tensions and new conflicts,” he said, adding a prayer for the end of tensions and the threat of nuclear war with North Korea.

Looking to South America, the pope said, “to the Baby Jesus we entrust Venezuela that it may resume a serene dialogue among the various elements of society for the benefit of all the beloved Venezuelan people.”

In Eastern Ukraine, where a “Christmas truce” went into effect Dec. 23, Pope Francis said, “we see Jesus in children who, together with their families, suffer from the violence of the conflict in Ukraine and its grave humanitarian repercussions; we pray that the Lord may soon grant peace to this dear country.”

But children suffer greatly not only because of war, conflict and migration. The pope also prayed for “the children of unemployed parents who struggle to offer their children a secure and peaceful future” and for “those whose childhood has been robbed and who, from a very young age, have been forced to work or to be enrolled as soldiers by unscrupulous mercenaries.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Photo Essay: Carols and Christmas

12/25/2017 - 2:41am

To the joy of some, and sorrow to others, the Ohio Valley received some snow on Christmas Eve, 2017. It was a busy day as many rushed out to get those last minute preparations finished. Yet, at sundown, the quiet over took the noise as we celebrated the Birth of our Savior.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (IS 9:1)

At St James the Greater in White Oak, The Nativity was bathed in Christmas Eve Snow (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)At St James the Greater in White Oak, The Nativity was bathed in Christmas Eve Snow (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A wreath adorns the entrance to St. Peter in Chains Cathedral on a cold winters night (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A wreath adorns the entrance to St. Peter in Chains Cathedral on a cold winters night (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Plum Street Jewish Temple across the street from St. Peter in Chains Cathedral sends Merry Christmas Greetings (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Plum Street Jewish Temple across the street from St. Peter in Chains Cathedral sends Merry Christmas Greetings (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Musicians ready to fill the evening with songs of Joy (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Musicians ready to fill the evening with songs of Joy (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Blake Callahan, organist for St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, begins with a prelude to Midnight Mass. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Blake Callahan, organist for St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, begins with a prelude to Midnight Mass. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

During the Christmas Choral Prelude, The Choir sings In Dulci Jubilo/Still Still Still

Anthony DiCello, Cathedral Music Director, conducts The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Anthony DiCello, Cathedral Music Director, conducts The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) While St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is always beautiful, on Christmas Eve the Cathedral in its brilliance (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)While St. Peter in Chains Cathedral is always beautiful, on Christmas Eve the Cathedral in its brilliance (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral during the Christmas Choral Prelude)The Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral during the Christmas Choral Prelude)

The Choir performs Stille Nacht/ Silent Night

The Chapel at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The Chapel at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes  and lying in a manger." - LK 2 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)“And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” – LK 2 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)