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Easter hope breaks routine, unleashes creativity, pope says

03/31/2018 - 9:03pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Truly celebrating Easter means allowing Jesus to triumph over personal fears and give life to hope, creativity and care for others, Pope Francis said.

Easter is “an invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence,” the pope said during the Easter Vigil March 31 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Do we want to share in this message of life,” he asked in his homily, “or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?”

During the liturgy, Pope Francis baptized eight adults, who were between the ages of 28 and 52. The Vatican said Nathan Potter, who was born in 1988 and comes from the United States, was one of the eight. Four of the other catechumens were from Italy and one each came from Albania, Peru and Nigeria.

Pope Francis also confirmed the eight and give them their first Communion during the Mass.

The Mass, on a very rainy night, began in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica with the blessing of the fire and of the Easter candle. With most of the lights in the basilica turned off, Pope Francis and the concelebrating cardinals, bishops and priests processed in darkness toward the altar, stopping first to light the pope’s candle and then those of the concelebrants and faithful.

“We began this celebration outside, plunged in the darkness of the night and the cold,” the pope said in his homily. “We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross.”

Transitioning from the Good Friday commemoration of Jesus’ death and commenting on the silence of Holy Saturday, the pope spoke of the hours when Jesus’ followers are left speechless in pain at his death, but also speechless at the injustice of his condemnation and at their own cowardice in the face of the lies and false testimony he endure.

“It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations,” the pope said. “It is also that of today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh.”

But in the midst of silence, he said, the stone is rolled away from Jesus’ tomb and there comes “the greatest message that history has ever heard: ‘He is not here, for he has been raised.'”

Jesus’ empty tomb should fill Christians with trust in God and should assure them that God’s light “can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives.”

“‘He is not here … he is risen!’ This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity,” the pope said. It is a call to revive faith, broaden one’s horizons and know that no one walks alone.

“To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our conventions, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us,” he said.

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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.

Reflections: The Piety of the Steps

03/31/2018 - 7:29pm
The final ascent begins off St. Gregory Street in Mt. Adams. This year umbrellas were a must for the journey. (CT Photo/Greg Hartrman)The final ascent begins off St. Gregory Street in Mt. Adams. This year umbrellas were a must for the journey. (CT Photo/Greg Hartrman)

Fr. Rob Jack STL

Piety is a gift of the Holy Spirit through which one cherishes and passes on the history of one’s faith as a source of one’s human and Christian identity. When we place around ourselves pictures of our families and friends and our pets and personal mementos, we practice a type of natural piety.

The supernatural gift of piety is a Gift of the Holy Spirit. We practice it by surrounding ourselves with holy objects, such as statues, pictures, rosaries, medals, etc. and performing meaningful deeds. They remind us of the presence of God. They ground our faith. They motivate us to pass the faith forward.
In the City of Cincinnati, every Good Friday, people flock to the steps that lead to Holy Cross-Immaculata Church on Mount Adams and slowly climb them. They come with different practices. Some say a prayer on each step. Some pray the rosary. Others may pray for sick friends or peace in the world. Whatever the reason, they are making a primordial human act. They are reaching up to God. Some bring friends, children and even grandchildren to pass on this simple yet powerful devotion. When they reach the Church at the top of the hill, they can go to the Sacrament of Penance or just say a simple prayer in Church in thanksgiving to the Mother of God, and God Himself, for another year on this earth.

What are some lessons we can learn from this yearly devotion? The first is that faith is familial. We pass it on from parent to child to grandchildren. Of all the things we provide for our children, the most important is the gift of faith. It is the one thing we carry with us at the moment of our death. We also see as we climb the steps that we are part of a much bigger human family, the family of the Church. Faith connects us to each other in even deeper ways than blood.  It is interesting to note that Archbishop Purcell promised to build a Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, on the highest hill in Cincinnati as a sign of thanks for surviving a dangerous storm at sea. She looks over the whole city. She is truly, from the vantage point Our Lady of Cincinnati, our Mother and Protectrix. Every citizen of Cincinnati, believer and non-believer, friend and foe, is under her maternal care and protection. It brings me comfort to look up to the Church on Mount Adams and see the statue of the Virgin Mary looking over all of us with her arms extended. Her intercession to Jesus holds the key to many of the problems we face as a society.

A second Lesson is that, as sinful and wounded human beings, we desire to repair what we have broken and we know that God’s grace and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary are necessary to do this. We have to train not only our souls, but also our bodies. Our whole person is involved in the shaping and renewing of our life. We “climb the mountain of the Lord.” Over the Church of the Immaculata is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. As Catholics, we recognize that Jesus himself has given us Mary as our Spiritual Mother, sure guide to Him and an advocate on our behalf that we may be pleasing to Him. Mary points to Jesus. Mary points to the Cross. Mary’s most important duties are to be the Mother of God and the means for us to truly get close to her Son. We have Mary in our sight as we climb the steps, but we know that our journey does not end with her, but with her Son.

A third Lesson that comes from walking the steps is the power of piety and tradition. These actions remind us that our lives are seriously weakened without the active and loving presence of God. These steps are not superstitious actions to get God to give us what we want, but a real reminder of what God has truly given us in human history: God has sent his Son Jesus Christ to save the world from sin and death and provide a new and true path to life. He does this by dying on the cross out of love for His heavenly Father and the human race, with whom God the Son shares a full human nature. Prayer and acts of self-denial reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. When we place ourselves in faith at the service of God, life opens up in profoundly new ways.

So whether we climb the steps on Good Friday or simply observe others as we drive by, remember that Easter is not about bunnies and little chicks and chocolate, but the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Jesus Christ, who makes of his own free will an offering of himself on the wood of the Cross for the redemption of the whole world.  That news is worth passing on. That news, and the gifts of grace that come from it, make the climb worth it.

 33 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), MT 27: 33 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Sacred Traditions: The Easter Triduum at The Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains

03/31/2018 - 12:58pm

On a cold rainy evening, the Easter Triduum began in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. The summit of the Liturgical Year is the Easter Triduum—from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

At the Cathedral, during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo was sung. Afterwards, bells and organ are silenced until the Gloria of the Easter Vigil. After Archbishop Schnurr’s homily, the ritual washing of the feet took place. The Mass concluded with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose, followed by Eucharistic adoration. The faithful left in silence as the alter was stripped bare as it was readied for Good Friday.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr recites the Penitential Act during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati March 29, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr recites the Penitential Act during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains in Cincinnati March 29, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Parishioners sing during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati March 29, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Parishioners sing during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains in Cincinnati March 29, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Archbishop Dennis Schnurr kneels to wash the feet of a parishioner during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati March 29, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr kneels to wash the feet of a parishioner during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains in Cincinnati March 29, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)  19 (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” LK 22: 19 (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) 20 (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr during the Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains. ” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you..” LK 22:20 (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Archbishop Dennis Schnurr processes the Blessed Sacrament for the Transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament .(CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr processes the Blessed Sacrament for the Transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament .(CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and Concelebrant Priests kneel before the Altar after the Transfer of the Most Blessed (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and Concelebrant Priests kneel before the Altar after the Transfer of the Most Blessed (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

On Good Friday at Noon, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion began at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains.

Bishop Joseph Binzer says the Opening Prayer for the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Bishop Joseph Binzer says the Opening Prayer for the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Students from Cincinnati Moeller High School carry the Holy Cross for the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Students from Cincinnati Moeller High School carry the Holy Cross for the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) Bishop Joseph Binzer venerates the Holy Cross during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Bishop Joseph Binzer venerates the Holy Cross during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) A pilgrim venerates the Holy Cross during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)A pilgrim venerates the Holy Cross during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard) The Holy Cross lies in front of the Altar as the Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral recesses during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)The Holy Cross lies in front of the Altar as the Choir of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral recesses during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati on Good Friday, Mar. 30, 2018. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

 

 

Way of the Cross: The Fourteenth Station

03/31/2018 - 12:00pm

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

Way of the Cross: The Thirteenth Station

03/31/2018 - 9:00am

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

Way of the Cross: The Twelfth Station

03/31/2018 - 6:00am

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

Update: Papal preacher to young people: Discover love, joy, life Jesus offers

03/30/2018 - 5:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the church listens to young people in preparation for this year’s synod, the church must not forget to also help them listen to Jesus and discover what he has to offer, said the preacher of the papal household.

“On the cross, Jesus not only gave us an example of self-giving love carried to the extreme, he also merited the grace for us to be able to bring it to pass, to some extent, in our lives,” Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said during a service commemorating Christ’s death on the cross.

Pope Francis presided over the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, which began with a silent, solemn procession down the central nave of St. Peter’s Basilica March 30.

Two aides then helped the 81-year-old pope down onto his knees as he stretched himself prostrate on the floor before the main altar of the basilica. His bare head rested on a red pillow, in silent prayer, in a sign of adoration and penance. As is customary, the papal household’s preacher gave the homily.

Father Cantalamessa said it was appropriate that, given this year’s upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and discernment, the church “make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the church and society.”

“The most important thing, however, is something else; it is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them” — fullness of joy and abundant life, he said.

Repeating the pope’s call for all Christians to renew their relationship with Jesus or at least be open to letting him encounter them each day, the Capuchin priest said God has a special mission for young people.

Their task, he said, is “to rescue human love from the tragic drift it had ended up — love that is no longer a gift of self but only the possession, often violent and tyrannical, of another.”

The ability to be totally giving and welcoming of love requires long preparation, whether it be for the vocation of marriage, religious life or service, he said.

Jesus on the cross is an example of giving himself for others carried to the extreme, and Christians are called to be courageous in going against the current cultural stream of selfishness and going against the crowd that chases after worldly things, he said.

There is a world out there that has nothing to do with God’s plan, he said; it is a world that has come “under the dominion of Satan and sin” and plays a “decisive role in public opinion,” which is then spread in infinite ways “electronically, through airwaves.”

These mistaken ways are then seen as “the norm” so that when people “act, think or speak against this spirit (it) is regarded as nonsensical or even as wrong and criminal,” he said.

He encouraged young people to go the opposite direction where Jesus, “our God and savior,” awaits.

After the homily, the assembly venerated the cross, which was carried down the central nave and held before the pope. The pope had removed his red chasuble and, in a sign of penance, placed a red stole over his shoulders. He kissed and leaned his head against the cross.

Pope Francis was scheduled to speak briefly later that night at the end of the Stations of the Cross in Rome’s Colosseum. At his request, the meditations on the stations were written by young people.

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

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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.

Traditions: Good Friday in Mt. Adams at Holy Cross Immaculata

03/30/2018 - 12:08pm

After midnight, hundreds of the faithful began praying the steps at Holy Cross Immaculata Church in Mt. Adams. A tradition dating back to the 1800’s, this year participants, along with rosaries and prayer books, were clothed in rain gear.

The first part of praying the steps is on Riverside Drive, where many begin their ascent in prayer. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The first part of praying the steps is on Riverside Drive, where many begin their ascent in prayer. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) From the first entry to Praying the Steps to a steep ascent to Holy Cross Immaculata, rain or shine the faithful are there. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)From the first entry to Praying the Steps to a steep ascent to Holy Cross Immaculata, rain or shine the faithful are there. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) The final ascent begins off St. Gregory Street in Mt. Adams. This year umbrellas were a must for the journey. (CT Photo/Greg Hartrman)The final ascent begins off St. Gregory Street in Mt. Adams. This year umbrellas were a must for the journey. (CT Photo/Greg Hartrman)  27 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Luke 23: 27 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  33 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), MT 27: 33 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Three tents were set up for confession at Holy Cross Immaculata Church. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Three tents were set up for confession at Holy Cross Immaculata Church. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) This year, Holy Cross Immaculata gave respite to the cold and the rain (CT Photo/Greg HartmanThis year, Holy Cross Immaculata gave respite to the cold and the rain (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Holy Cross Immaculata Good Friday Meditaion

Rosaries awaited pilgrims as they entered Holy Cross Immaculata on Good Friday (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Rosaries awaited pilgrims as they entered Holy Cross Immaculata on Good Friday (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  21 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian,* who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. MK 15: 21 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Rain didn't deter the faithful Good Friday morning (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Rain didn’t deter the faithful Good Friday morning (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. MK 15: 33, 37 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

A pilgrim’s view from Holy Cross Immaculata Church on Good Friday

 26-27 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)When Jesus saw his mother* and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. JN 19: 26-27 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Upon entering the church, pilgrims left lit candles inn the sanctuary (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Upon entering the church, pilgrims left lit candles inn the sanctuary (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) As pilgrims exited the church, a stain glass of an Easter Lily gives the great hope of the resurrection. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)As pilgrims exited the church, a stain glass of an Easter Lily gives the great hope of the resurrection. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

Way of the Cross: The Eleventh Station

03/30/2018 - 12:00pm

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Young Men’s Procession in Russia

03/30/2018 - 10:00am
Members of the Brotherhood of Virtue at St. Remy Parish carry a 400-pound cross through the streets of Russia, Ohio, for their annual Brotherhood Stations of the Cross. Courtesy photo (larger photo below)

By Gail Finke

Young men in St. Remy Church, Russia, benefit from a tangible brotherhood. The parish group for high school boys, the Brotherhood of Virtue, meets monthly for activities such as kayaking and paintball, as well as for traditional youth group activities including prayer and service.

Once a year, on the Monday of Holy Week, they take their faith to the streets of Russia for the Brotherhood Stations of the Cross.

“We had the Cross made,” said youth minister Mark Travis. “It weighs about 400 pounds. We wanted it to be heavy, so that it would take more than one to carry it. Before we start I remind them that we help each other to grow closer to Christ, ad to help each other carry the Cross.”

After walking around the town and stopping along the way to pray the stations, the Brotherhood ends the walk in front of the church “because the tabernacle is inside, and the resurrection of Christ is to come,” Travis said. “Then we go into the church to pray.”

Parishioners who saw the Brotherhood walk were quick to comment on the parish Facebook page. “This is so inspiring to drive by,” said Maria York Hoehne, who provided the photos. “Thanks to all the faithful young men of the parish!”
“I was very inspired by those young people when I saw them on Main Street,” wrote another parishioner. “Great witness to our faith.”
T event is a highlight of the year for the young men, Travis said. “The boys demonstrate what it means to be in a ‘Brotherhood’ –rooted in God while helping each other ‘carry the cross.’”

Members of the Brotherhood of Virtue at St. Remy Parish carry a 400-pound cross through the streets of Russia, Ohio, for their annual Brotherhood Stations of the Cross. Courtesy photo Members of the Brotherhood of Virtue at St. Remy Parish carry a 400-pound cross through the streets of Russia, Ohio, for their annual Brotherhood Stations of the Cross. Courtesy photo

 

 

Way of the Cross: The Tenth Station

03/30/2018 - 9:30am

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

Way of the Cross: The Ninth Station

03/30/2018 - 6:00am

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

Jesus does not give up on anyone, pope tells prisoners

03/29/2018 - 5:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — Before washing the feet of 12 prisoners, Pope Francis told them and hundreds of inmates to remember that Jesus constantly stands before them with love, ready to cleanse their sins and forgive them.

“Jesus takes a risk on each of us. Know this: Jesus is called Jesus, not Pontius Pilate. Jesus does not know how to wash his hands of us; he only knows how to take a risk on us,” the pope said March 29 during his homily at Rome’s Regina Coeli prison.

Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the prison and washed the feet of a dozen inmates. Four were Italian; two were from the Philippines; two from Morocco; and one each from Moldova, Colombia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the Vatican press office said. Eight of the 12 were Catholic; two were Muslim; one was Orthodox; and one was Buddhist.

In his brief homily before the foot-washing ritual, Pope Francis explained to the prisoners that in Jesus’ day, the job of washing feet was the task of a slave. “There wasn’t asphalt or cobblestones, there was dust and people’s feet got dirty,” so before they went into a house, the slaves would wash the person’s feet.

The Gospel recounts Jesus washing the feet of his own disciples “to give us an example of how we must serve one another,” the pope said.

Another time, he said, Jesus explained to his disciples that kings want to be served. 

“Think of the kings and emperors back then, so many were cruel, they insisted on being served by slaves,” the pope said.

But Jesus told his followers: “Among you, it must not be like this. The one who rules must serve,” the pope explained.

“Jesus overturns the historic and cultural attitudes of his age — and of today, too,” Pope Francis told the inmates. Jesus says that “the one who rules, in order to be a good boss, must serve. I often think — not of people today because they still are alive and can change their lives, so we cannot judge them — but think of history. If many kings, emperors, heads of state had understood this teaching of Jesus, instead of ruling, being cruel, killing people, if they would have done this, how many wars would not have been fought?”

In his earthly life and still today, the pope said, Jesus goes to “people who are thrown away by society, at least for a while,” and he says to them, “‘You are important to me,’ and Jesus comes to serve us.”

“The sign that Jesus serves us today in Regina Coeli is that he wanted to choose 12 of you today for the washing of the feet,” the pope said.

“I am a sinner like you, but I represent Jesus today. I am his ambassador,” the pope said. “When I kneel before each of you, think, ‘Jesus took a risk on this man, a sinner, to come to me and tell me he loves me.’ This is service. This is Jesus. He never abandons us. He never tires of forgiving us. He loves us so much.”

The pope celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the rotunda of the prison, a small central area formed from the intersection of various wings of the jail.

The prison is designed to house just over 600 inmates, but currently houses more than 900 men. Some 65 percent of the inmates are non-Italians, Vatican News reported.

At the end of the Mass, a prisoner publicly thanked Pope Francis for his visit and said the inmates would try to do, at least symbolically, what he recommended at his general audience at the Vatican the day before: celebrate Easter by splashing water on their eyes to look at the world with fresh eyes.

The 81-year-old pope responded by confiding in the prisoners that, like many people his age, he is developing cataracts and will have an operation next year to fix them.

But, he said, as life goes one and people get busy or make mistakes, they can develop “cataracts of the soul” that prevent them from seeing the world with the hope that is born of Jesus’ resurrection.

“Never tire of renewing your gaze, of having that cataract operation on your soul every day,” the pope told the prisoners.

He also insisted that jail time must be a time to prepare a person to return to society and live as good citizens and that the penalties for crime must be “open to hope.”

“There is no just penalty that is not open to hope,” Pope Francis said. “That is why the death penalty is neither Christian nor human.”

Pope Francis began his visit in the prison infirmary, meeting with prisoners there. After the Mass he was scheduled to visit the prison’s Section VIII, a protected area of the facility for inmates convicted of sexual crimes and other inmates who could be in danger in the general population.

The prison is less than two miles from the Vatican and is no stranger to hosting a pope celebrating Mass. St. John XXIII visited in 1958, Blessed Paul VI in 1964 and St. John Paul II went in 2000.

The Mass March 29 marked the fourth time Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass in a detention facility. In 2013, for his first Holy Thursday as pope, he celebrated in a juvenile detention facility. In 2015 he presided over the Mass and foot-washing ritual at Rebibbia, Rome’s main prison, and in 2017 he went to a prison in Paliano, some 45 miles from Rome.

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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.

Vatican: Claim that pope denied hell’s existence is unreliable

03/29/2018 - 4:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican said comments attributed to Pope Francis denying the existence of hell are a product of an Italian journalist’s “reconstruction” of the pope’s remarks and not a faithful transcript of the pope’s real words.  

Eugenio Scalfari, a co-founder and former editor of La Repubblica, an Italian daily, said Pope Francis — with whom he has had several telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings — invited him to his residence March 27.

During their conversation, Scalfari, 93, an avowed atheist, claims the pope said that while the souls of repentant sinners “receive the forgiveness of God and go among the line of souls who contemplate him, the souls of those who are unrepentant, and thus cannot be forgiven, disappear.”

“Hell does not exist, the disappearance of sinful souls exists,” Scalfari claims the pope said in the interview published March 29.

The Italian journalist has explained on more than one occasion that he does not take notes or record his conversations with the pope; he re-creates them afterward from memory, including the material he puts in quotation marks.

The Vatican issued a statement soon after the article was published, saying the pope did receive Scalfari “in a private meeting” to exchange Easter greetings, but he did not “give him an interview.”

Regarding the alleged words of the pope, which were also published in a similar article written by the journalist in 2014, the Vatican said Scalfari’s article “is a product of his own reconstruction in which the actual words pronounced by the pope are not cited.”

“No quotes of the aforementioned article should therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words,” the Vatican said.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “immediately after death, the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.'”

“The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs,” the catechism says.

The alleged quotes ascribed to Pope Francis directly contradict the many public remarks he has made in homilies and speeches confirming the existence of hell.

Meeting a group of children and teens during a Rome parish visit March 8, 2015, a female Scout asked the pope, “If God forgives everybody, why does hell exist?”

The pope praised the question, saying it was “very important” as well as “a good and difficult question.”

The pope assured the children that God is good but reminded them that there was also a “very proud angel, very proud, very intelligent, and he was envious of God. Do you understand? He was envious of God. He wanted God’s place. And God wanted to forgive him, but he said, ‘I don’t need your forgiveness. I am good enough!'”

“This is hell: It is telling God, ‘You take care of yourself because I’ll take care of myself.’ They don’t send you to hell, you go there because you choose to be there. Hell is wanting to be distant from God because I do not want God’s love. This is hell. Do you understand?”

On other occasions, the pope has described hell as the destination for those who choose to continue to sin and do evil.

Speaking to families of victims of the Mafia March 21, 2014, the pope made an appeal to all men and women in the Mafia to stop, turn their lives around and convert.

“Convert, there is still time for not ending up in hell. It is what is waiting for you if you continue on this path,” the pope said.

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Contributing to this story was Carol Glatz at the Vatican.

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Greater Cincinnati Women’s Conference Photo Gallery

03/29/2018 - 3:00pm

A gallery of photos from the March 2 Greater Cincinnati Catholic Women’s Conference. For our story, search “GCCWC.”

Today’s Video: Paul, Apostle of Christ: The Heart of the Story

03/29/2018 - 2:51pm

Today’s video looks at the movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ: The Heart of the Story.

Here’s a partial listing of theatres that are showing Paul, The Apostle

AMC Newport On The Levee KY
Regal Wilder KY Stadium
Rave Cinemas Western Hills
Kenwood Theatre
Xscape Theatres Northgate
Rave Motion Pictures Milford
Showcase Cinemas Springdale
AMC West Chester
Regal Deerfield Towne Center Stadium
Cinépolis Dayton
Rave Cinemas Dayton South
Rave Cinemas The Greene
Star Cinemas – Hillsboro

For times, click here

Way of the Cross: The Eighth Station

03/29/2018 - 12:00pm

In March, we brought you a chart of the 14 Stations of the Cross (plus one), each from a different church or institution in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We’ll share a detailed photo of each with you throughout Holy Week.

Click here to see the entire spread. For a printable file (best printed at 11 x 17 -in.) click the link below.
Stations of the Cross spread

Photo Essay: Morning Prayer Holy Thursday at St. Martin of Tours & St. Aloysius Gonzaga

03/29/2018 - 11:28am

A look at Holy Thursday morning at St. Martin of Tours in Cheviot, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Bridgetown.

The doors at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Cheviot on Holy Thursday Morning. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)The doors at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Cheviot on Holy Thursday Morning. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Holy Thursday 2018 dawned cloudy and rainy. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Holy Thursday 2018 dawned cloudy and rainy. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Holy Thursday Morning at St. Martin of Tours, (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Holy Thursday Morning at St. Martin of Tours, (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  11 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. John 17: 11 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  35 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. John 12: 35 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Fr. Terence Hamilton leads Morning Prayer at St. Martin of Tours on Holy Thursday Morning. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Fr. Terence Hamilton leads Morning Prayer at St. Martin of Tours on Holy Thursday Morning. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

 

 33-34 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you. I give you a new commandment:* love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. John 13: 33-34 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Flowers watered in Holy Thursday rain at St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Bridgetown. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Flowers watered in Holy Thursday rain at St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Bridgetown. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Holy Thursday Morning at St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Bridgetown. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Holy Thursday Morning at St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Bridgetown. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  13-14 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4: 13-14 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) Morning Prayer at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Holy Thursday 2018 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Morning Prayer at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Holy Thursday 2018 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  16 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. John 3: 16 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)  35 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. John 6: 35 (CT Photo/Greg Hartman) A replica (made of old Ibold Cigar Boxes) of the original St. Aloysius Goinzaga. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)A replica (made of old Ibold Cigar Boxes) of the original St. Aloysius Gonzaga. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

If you go: Praying the Steps in Mt. Adams

03/29/2018 - 11:11am
As one walks away from a prayerful morning, Holy Cross Immaculata Church in the distance. (Greg Hartman/CT Photo)As one walks away from a prayerful morning, Holy Cross Immaculata Church in the distance. (Greg Hartman/CT Photo)

Today’s primer on Praying the Steps in Mt. Adams at Holy Cross Immaculata Church.

What to expect: People began praying on the hillside while the church was being built and, after 1859, gathering to pray on its original steps. Eventually, the custom developed into a Good Friday observance, and for many decades, people have come from around the region to walk up the steps, praying the rosary or other prayers.

Praying the Steps on Good Friday can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the crowd size. From noon until 4 p.m., generally has the largest crowd praying the steps.

Where: Most people start on St. Gregory Street below Holy Cross-Immaculata Church, Another starting point is at Riverside Drive across from the Montgomery Boat House. This path will take you up to the pedestrian bridge over Columbia Parkway and a path to St. Gregory Street. This is a more strenuous trek that will take at least an hour. Blessing of the Steps is one minute after midnight and praying the steps lasts until 11:59 p.m. Good Friday. Celebration of the Lord’s Passion will take place at 2 p.m., with Father Steve Angi presiding, and 7 p.m., with Bishop Joseph R. Binzer presiding. Confession is available throughout Good Friday except during the two services.

Where to park: If you’re not familiar with Mt. Adams, the streets are narrow and parking can be at a premium as this is a residential area. There is a parking garage at St. Gregory & Monastery Streets. You can park in downtown Cincinnati and utilize Metro Bus #1 (Mt. Adams–Eden Park–Museum Center), which picks up at Government Square and comes within a few neighborhood blocks of the church/steps.

Holy Cross Immaculata Map

Great American Ballpark to Sell Fish During Rescheduled Opening Day

03/29/2018 - 10:24am

With Reds Opening Day now moved to Good Friday, the team’s COO has a suggestion for Catholics frustrated by a second day known for extravagant eating and drinking coinciding a fast day (remember Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday?).

“We’ve got a couple of religious holidays on Friday,” Phil Castellini said in a television interview yesterday, referring to the start of Passover as well as to Good Friday. “It should be noted that Frisch’s is bringing the fish sandwich into its stand, LaRosa’s will be selling pizzas, and our clubs will have fish offerings as well. So go to church in the morning and come on down to the game.”

It’s the first time since 1966 that the Reds have had to move a scheduled Opening Day. While Catholics are to refrain from eating meat on the Fridays of Lent, Good Friday is a fast day. That means, in addition to not eating meat, Catholics been the ages of 18 and 59 may eat only one full meal. Two additional small meals (that together don’t add up to more food than a full meal) are permitted, but no snacks.

A bigger problem for many Catholics will be following Castellini’s suggestion to “go to church in the morning.” Most Good Friday observances take place in the afternoon or evening. If you have tickets to the game, we suggest checking our Mass Times & More page for Good Friday observances at in or near downtown Cincinnati.