Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pope Francis: Homily of Midnight Mass

Christmas Midnight Mass: Jesus is the Light who Brightens the Darkness

2013-12-25 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) 

“In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light.”

In his homily during Christmas Midnight Mass, Pope Francis reflected on “the mystery of walking and seeing.”
Walking, he said, brings to mind the whole of salvation history, beginning with Abraham, our father in faith. “From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord!” And yet, the Pope said, “on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.”
Pope Francis said that in our own lives, too, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”
But, he continued, “On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God's grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race.”
“The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God . . . He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light.”
The Gospel of the Mass tells how the shepherds were the first to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. “They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast,” the Pope said. “And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks.” The Holy Father called on us to join the shepherds, to pause before the Child in silence, thanking God and praising His fidelity.
Pope Francis concluded his homily with the plea: “On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.”

Below, please find the complete text of Pope Francis’ homily:
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Christmas Midnight Mass
25 December 2013

1. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1).
This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas Night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking andseeing.

Walking. This verb makes us reflect on the course of history, that long journey which is the history of salvation, starting with Abraham, our father in faith, whom the Lord called one day to set out, to go forth from his country towards the land which he would show him. From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way towards the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord! He is ever faithful to his covenant and to his promises. “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5). Yet on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.

In our personal history too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us. “Whoever hates his brother – writes the Apostle John – is in the darkness; he walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 Jn2:11).

. On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle:“God's grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race”(Tit 2:11).

The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.

3. The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks. Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.

On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miracle Approved for Paul VI

Paul VI comes one step closer to beatification as the Medical Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declares that the former Italian Pope’s healing of an unborn child is unexplainable


The Medical Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints chaired by Dr. Patrizio Polisca, Benedict XVI and Francis’ personal doctor, has called a healing attributed to Giovanni Battista Montini, Pope Paul VI, “unexplainable”. The alleged miracle will now have to be examined by theologians and cardinals before it receives the Pope’s approval. But the toughest part is over and it is expected that Montini’s beatification will take place in the next few months.

From the list of reported cases of healing which the postulator of Paul VI’s cause, Antonio Marrazzo, received, he chose one case which early clinical tests showed as “unexplainable”. Marrazzo chose this healing case some time ago. A year ago, on 20 December 2012, Benedict XVI approved the heroic virtues of Paul VI, concluding the canonical process. Only one miracle is required for beatification.

The alleged miracle Marrazzo chose to present to the commission, was the healing of an unborn child witnessed in California in the early 90s. During a woman’s pregnancy, doctors found a serious problem in the foetus which normally results in brain damage and advised the mother to abort. The woman refused and decided to go ahead with the pregnancy, trusting in the intercession of Paul V, the Pope who wrote the “Humanae Vitae” encyclical in 1968.

The child was born without any defects but only when the child reached puberty could doctors be certain of whether the child had made a full recovery without any problem. A year ago Fr. Marrazzo told Vatican Radio that “a truly extraordinary and supernatural event had occurred thanks to the intercession of Paul VI.” This healing was perfectly in line with the magisterium of Paul VI, who wrote the “Humanae Vitae” in defence of human life, but also in defence of the family because the document talks about conjugal love, not just about unborn life. This healing fits in with Montini’s way of thinking.”

The debate over the late Pope’s cause has intensified over the past year, with doctors exchanging medical opinions until yesterday’s final verdict. Speaking at a conference on Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land last November, the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, said the former Pope’s beatification “should be relatively imminent.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Pope Francis!

His Holiness celebrates His 77th Birthday!  Ad Multos Annos!  

Pope Francis turned 77 today. This morning he celebrated Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse with 4 homeless men, his closest collaborators and staff from the guesthouse, all of whom afterwards greeted him with a birthday song.

Those present at his morning Mass included Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, together with staff from the Santa Marta guesthouse. The congregation also included the Almoner Monsignor Konrad Krajewski who brought with him 4 homeless men who live in the streets around the Vatican. After the mass, all those present wished the Pope a happy birthday and sang greetings to him before joining him for breakfast in the Vatican guesthouse.

Today’s reading was centered on the genealogy of Jesus and the Pope used this in his homily to reflect on God’s enduring presence in our lives throughout history. He said “God wished to live out his life alongside us” and “took his surname from each of us.”

“God,” the Pope continued, “has always walked alongside his people,” beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

He did not want to come to redeem us without coming to live among us and share our lives. The Pope said this long list of God’s people included “saints and sinners.” The latter included “high level sinners who committed serious sins and who didn’t listen” to God’s plans for them.

Pope Francis said in addition to accompanying us in our lives our God follows us and in this way, he displays His humility, His patience and His love for us. He concluded his homily with “a Christmas wish” for all of us “to allow God to write our lives for us.”

Pope Francis celebrates his birthday with some homeless people in Santa Marta

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast-Message from Pope

Mary's embrace showed what America-North & South-is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother's womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor

VATICAN CITY, December 11, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis has sent a Message to the Americas to mark the Dec. 12th Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is venerated as Patroness of the American continent. The Holy Father delivered the Message during the course of his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, the eve of the feast. Below, please find the official English translation of the full text of the Message.


MESSAGE TO THE AMERICAS for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. I would like to greet all my brothers and sisters on that continent, and I do so thinking of the Virgin of Tepeyac.

When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.

When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.

That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is also my message, the message of the Church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.

His Holiness,

Pope Francis 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pondering All Things

By Bishop James Conley
December 6, 2013

No one awaits a new baby like its mother. While new babies bring joy to whole families, and whole communities, there is no comparison to the way a new child impacts a mother. From the moment a woman discovers she is pregnant, I am told, she’s conscious of the baby growing inside of her—she’s protective, and hopeful, and prayerful.
A mother knows, like no one else, how much a new baby will transform her life, and the lives of those around her.
Last Sunday, we began the liturgical season of Advent: a season in which we wait, with hopeful expectation, for the arrival of the Christ Child. Christ has already come into the world, and he’s present with us now in the Holy Eucharist, in the Church, and in our families. But we continue to celebrate Advent because there are always new ways for Christ to enter our lives, and always new possibilities for him to transform us.
No one knows how much Jesus Christ can transform our lives like the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
From the moment she discovered that she would be the mother of the Son of God, Mary pondered the meaning of her vocation in her heart. She pondered what Christ would do in the world, and what her role would be. She realized with grace, and beauty that her role would be to "proclaim the greatness of the Lord."
When Mary discovered that Jesus was coming, she prepared herself to become his disciple. This week, Pope Francis said that she is the perfect example of Advent preparations. Mary’s prayer, he said, is the canticle of the People of God on the journey, and of all men and women who hope in God, in the power of his mercy."
Mary understood, at the moment she discovered that the Lord was coming, the power of God’s mercy. And, as we prepare for Christ to enter our hearts more deeply, we should pray for the grace to know that mercy as well.
As Advent begins, says the Holy Father, we can invite Mary into our homes. We can "be guided by her, she who is mother, she is a ‘mama’ and knows how to lead us. Let us be guided by her in this time of waiting and active vigilance."
I pray that this year, each of us will imitate the Blessed Mother as we await Jesus Christ. I pray that as you set up the Christmas crèche, you will read the story of the Nativity. I pray that your family will sing the hymns of Advent and of Marian joy. And I pray, most especially, that this Christmas your family will regularly pray the Rosary together.
When the Gospel was revealed to Mary, she "pondered all things in her heart." When we pray the Rosary, we can do the same. In the Rosary, we invite Mary to pray for us as the Lord reveals the mystery of his incarnation. If we spend time this Advent praying the Rosary, when Christ is revealed at Christmas we will know him more intimately, and cherish him more deeply. And, like Mary, we will trust in the incredible power of God’s mercy.

Like all mothers, Mary knew that her child would transform her life. She also knew that he can transform each of our lives—that he can draw us into the eternal love of the Father. The Christ child will come, and he will invite us to new life. As we await his arrival, may we ponder all these things in our hearts.

Gospel Joy in Advent

Written by Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and friends. It was a beautiful time for me also. There is so much I am grateful for in this past year!

I also had the blessing of celebrating the conclusion of the Year of Faith with a Mass at our historic San Buenaventura Mission.

In God’s Providence, the Year of Faith ended on the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Junípero Serra, the great apostle of California and one of the spiritual heroes of the first evangelization of the New World.

As many of you know, I have long had a devotion to Blessed Junípero. So it was a moving experience for me to celebrate the Eucharist near the spot where he offered the Eucharist to consecrate San Buenaventura — the last of the nine missions he established in California.

This Year of Faith has been a season of grace me and for our Church. And to mark the year’s end, Pope Francis issued Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”).

I’ve been slowly reading and praying over our Holy Father’s words. This is truly a remarkable document — a powerful reflection on our identity and mission as Christians, written in deeply personal language.

The Pope offers a strong analysis of the cultural challenges the Church faces. He urges us to overcome our selfishness and greed and to work for a world that is more just and more compassionate.

He also offers us detailed practical guidance on areas that he calls “programmatic” for the Church’s mission — areas such as preaching; parish life; religious education; and youth ministry and social outreach.

But Evangelii Gaudium is really aimed at our hearts. The Pope is challenging us — personally as Catholics and institutionally as the Church. Who are we and what are we living for? Is our faith changing us and making us different? Or instead are we trying to reshape and “downsize” the Gospel to make us feel more comfortable with our weaknesses? These are the tough questions the Pope is asking us.

“Every Christian is challenged — here and now — to be actively engaged in evangelization,” our Holy Father writes. “Indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.”

In other words, the Pope is saying, we have no excuses. If we love Jesus, we need to proclaim him. Even if we don’t have special training and none of us is a saint, we still have a duty to proclaim Christ.

“In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him,” the Pope writes. “What you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope is what you also need to communicate to others.”

“Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse,” he adds. “On the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus — not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing.”

The Pope reminds us that listening is the first step in evangelizing. Listening “when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones or so many other heartfelt needs.”

Only after listening — and always listening in ways that are “respectful and gentle” — should we speak to others of God. And always we need to keep in mind the Gospel’s “fundamental message” — God’s “personal love” for every person and his desire to save us and be our friend.

Evangelii Gaudium is not only a document “about” the new evangelization. It’s a beautiful example of what the new evangelization looks like in practice.

So as we begin this new Church year in this season of Advent, let’s ask God to open our hearts to really hear what our Holy Father is calling us to. Let’s get rid of the noise and chatter that tries to “spin” our new Pope’s message one way or the other. Let’s just listen personally to what he is saying to us.

“The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. … If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts.”

And with Pope Francis, let’s make this prayer to our Blessed Mother: “Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Season of Advent


We light a advent candle today, a small dim light against a world that often seems forbidding and dark. But we light it because we are a people of hope, a people whose faith is marked by an expectation that we should always be ready for the coming of the Master. The joy and anticipation of this season is captured beautifully in the antiphons of hope from the monastic liturgies:

See! The ruler of the earth shall come, the Lord who will take from us the heavy burden of our exile
The Lord will come soon, will not delay.
The Lord will make the darkest places bright.
We must capture that urgency today in the small flame of our candle. We light the candle because we know that the coming of Christ is tied to our building of the kingdom. Lighting the flame, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, reconciling the divided, praying for the repentant, greeting the lonely and forgotten – doing all these works hastens His coming.


Happy New Year!  On January 1st we wish everybody a happy New Year. What about the 1st Sunday of Advent?  This initiates the church New Year. Should we not wish our friends and relatives a spiritual happy New Year?

Advent focuses on JESUS. He will come!  Emmanuel means “God is with us!” There are three comings of Jesus: in history He was Incarnate and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago. He will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. Finally, He comes every day and every moment through grace. Most especially Jesus comes at every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Jesus was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, Jesus is constantly being born in the hands of the priest in the moment of consecration. Still more Jesus is born in the hearts of all who receive Him with great faith, devotion and love in receiving Holy Communion.

Given that Advent is already close to knocking at our doors, let us offer ten short suggestions on how we might live out the most fruitful of Advent’s in our lives. We can never tell if this could be our last Advent. Let us be prepared!

1.    PRAY! Make a firm commitment this Advent to pray more than you normally do as well as with greater fervor! Jesus came to cast fire; may your hearts burn within you as you pray like the disciples on the road to Emmaus!

2.    SACRIFICE!   All of us can give up something that we like to show our love and apreciation for Jesus who loves us so much and suffered so much for us to open up the gates of heaven and to save our immortal souls. St. Ignatius of Loyola specifies that Jesus was born in Bethlehem so as to die for us on the cross on Calvary. The crib and the cross are interconnected! Jesus does not look at the “bigness” of the action but the purity of intention. Remember the widow’s mite.(Lk.21:1-4)      

3.    CONFESS.  Clean out the dirty barn of your soul so that on the day Jesus is born He will have a clean and a warm welcome!

4.    BIBLE.  The Church highly recommends the reading of the Bible, the Word of God.  St. Jerome warns us: “Ignorance of Sacred Scripture is ignorance of Christ. However in the “Strong” Liturgical Seasons of Lent and Advent the Church even more urgently exhorts us to read and meditate on the Word of God.

5.    BIBLE VERSE MOTIVATION!  Why not choose some Bible verse or passage, or some scene that really seems to captivate you to motivate you to live out to the fullest possible extent this Advent. Live out this Advent as if it were to be the last Advent in your life!

6.     MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION!  By far the best action we could possibly carry out in living out Advent, Lent, or any time is to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, participate fully, actively, and consciously and especially receive Holy Communion with burning love.  An interesting linguistic note---- “Christmas” means the “Mass of Christ!” Indeed every day can be Christmas for us!

7.     FORGIVE AND HEAL THE WOUNDS!   We all are hurt and have been hurt; we all hurt others; and we have all hurt God due to our sins!  If it is such that we are still clinging on to old hurts, allowing resentments to fester, and nursing old grudges, Advent is a prime-time and propitious opportunity to forgive and allow God to heal your wounded heart! Jesus is the Prince of Peace and wants to restore peace to your wounded heart! Remember the words of Jesus:  “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”

8.    CONFESSION--- bring the whole family to cleanse their souls!    One of the primary tricks of the devil is to keep us away from the Sacrament of Confession.  What does the devil say?  The following: “Do it tomorrow; the priest is too busy and why waste his time; the priest will yell at you. My sin is too big and I am afraid and ashamed!”  All of these lies of the devil we can easily swallow hook, line and sinker! Offer the Confession to Jesus as a Birthday Gift.  He relishes clean and pure hearts.  He Himself said: “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)

9.    LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.   In this Advent Season be on the lookout as to what poor, sick, elderly, hungry or thirsty, lonely or depressed individual you can visit and bring the love of Jesus to! Read Mt. 25: 31-46. Jesus gives us an outline of our final test on the Day of Judgment. Did we show love by giving--- food, drink, clothes, time and a warm welcome. You might even view the “Christmas Carol” of Charles Dickens to motivate you! Which Tiny Tim has God placed in your path! Do not be afraid to pick him up on your healthy shoulders and carry him. “He ain’t heavy; he is my brother!”

10. MARY AND MERRY CHRISTMAS.  To live out a fruitful Advent which culminates in the joy of Christmas—the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—invite Mary to be with you the whole time! Nobody on earth lived out this season better than the Blessed Virgin Mary. She will teach us the “Reason for the Season”. Mary will teach us that Advent is indeed a special Liturgical time of Preparation for the birth of her Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the American society so immured with money, materialism, leading to consumerism it is all too easy to become oblivious to the real meaning of Christmas.  Christmas is not simply about buying  and toys and things and possessions! No!  The real GIFT of Christmas is not a material commodity, but a PERSON. That “Person” is Our Lord and Savior Jesus, born in the poor, damp and cold stable of Bethlehem of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May Our Lady teach us the true meaning of Christmas by living out fervently and faithfully this Advent Season.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Blessed Thanksgiving!

       “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks”
 – Saint Ambrose of Milan 

The Eucharist in Greek "Thanksgiving"! 

Blessed Thanksgiving from Cardinal Timothy Dolan 

Thanksgiving Message from Bishop James Conley: 

Beauty is a gift that points us to eternity. Beauty draws us out of time—out of ourselves—to consider the timelessness of God’s love. The beauty of this world is an invitation to something far greater—an invitation to share the eternal beauty of the Blessed Trinity.
I thought about this a few weekends ago on the road to Lincoln. I was driving home on a Sunday from celebrating Confirmation Masses in Grant, North Platte, and Wellfleet. I was struck by a rich, blazing sunset, which painted the sky with warm reds and oranges, setting the place for a rising harvest moon.
The sunset that day reminded me of a poem, Pied Beauty, by the Jesuit Gerald Manley Hopkins, a favorite poet, we learned recently, of Pope Francis. Hopkins wrote:

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Hopkins knew that to encounter beauty is to encounter a blessing from God. I was grateful to God to encounter the beauty of that sunset. But I was even more grateful to serve a God who wants to bless us.
This Thanksgiving, we should be thankful for the beauty we encounter. We should be thankful for the families we’re given, for our material blessings, and for friendships we have. But we should be thankful, most of all, for what those things signify.
God blesses us so that we know he’s made us for eternity. God blesses us so that we know his love is abundant, inexhaustible, and unimaginable. He blesses us so that we’ll trust in his mercy—the eternal blessing.
God speaks to us in signs and wonders and relationships. He speaks to us through beauty, to be sure, and through family, and through encounters with truth, and goodness. He speaks to us in the daily blessings of our lives. But all earthly blessings—even our families—are pale reminders of the incredible, eternal love of God.
God’s truest expression of our eternal destiny is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, his son.
This Thanksgiving, we should be thankful that the Word of God came into this world to redeem us, to make us holy, and to make us fit for eternal life.
When we gather this Thanksgiving with family and friends, to count our blessings and to express gratitude for earthly things, we should point to their meaning in eternity. When we recall our blessings, we should recall the one who blesses us. When we give thanks for beauty, we should praise the author of all beauty.
Let us praise God, for sunsets, and family, and feasting. But let us praise him, especially, for the blessing of our eternal lives to come.

Thanksgiving proclamation made by George Washington on Oct. 3, 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and
Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness":

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pope Issues First Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium

2013-11-26 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued his first Apostolic Exhortation on Tuesday, Evangelii Gaudium, translated into English as The Joy of the Gospel. The 224-page document outlines the Pope’s vision for a missionary Church, whose “doors should always be open”. The Pope speaks on numerous themes, including evangelization, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and the role of women and of the laity in the Church.

Philippa Hitchen reports:

The Joy of the Gospel is the title Pope Francis has chosen for this first major document of his pontificate, putting down in print the joyous spirit of encounter with Christ that characterizes every public appearance he has made so far. The man who has constantly kept the media’s attention with his desire to embrace and share his faith with everyone he meets, now urges usto do exactly the same. To “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, as he puts it, through a thorough renewal of the Church’s structures and vision. Including what he calls “a conversion of the papacy” to make it better able to serve the mission of evangelization in the modern world. The Church, he says, should not be afraid to re-examine “customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel” even if they may have deep historical roots.
In strikingly direct and personal language, the Pope appeals to all Christians to bring about a “revolution of tenderness” by opening their hearts each day to God’s unfailing love and forgiveness. The great danger in today’s consumer society, he says, is “the desolation and anguish” that comes from a “covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.” Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests , he warns, “there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.”As we open our hearts, the Pope goes on, so the doors of our churches must always be open and the sacraments available to all. The Eucharist, he says pointedly, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” And he repeats his ideal of a Church that is “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets” rather than a Church that is caught up in a slavish preoccupation with liturgy and doctrine, procedure and prestige. “God save us,” he exclaims, “from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” Urging a greater role for the laity, the Pope warns of “excessive clericalism” and calls for “a more incisive female presence in the Church”, especially “where important decisions are made.”

Looking beyond the Church, Pope Francis denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root”, based on a tyranny of the marketplace, in which financial speculation, widespread corruption and tax evasion reign supreme. He also denounces attacks on religious freedom and new persecutions directed against Christians. Noting that secularization has eroded ethical values, producing a sense of disorientation and superficiality, the Pope highlights the importance of marriage and stable family relationships. Returning to his vision of a Church that is poor and for the poor, the Pope urges us to pay particular attention to those on the margins of society, including the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly, migrants, victims of trafficking and unborn children. While it is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life, he says, it’s also true that “we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish.”
Finally the new papal document also focuses on the themes of promoting peace, justice and fraternity, through patient and respectful dialogue with all people of all faiths and none. Better relations with other Christians, with Jews and with Muslims are all seen as indispensable ways of promoting peace and combatting fundamentalism. While urging Christians to “avoid hateful generalisations” about Islam, the Pope also calls “humbly” on Islamic countries to guarantee full religious freedom to Christians”

The full text of the new Apostolic Exhortation can be found on the Vatican website, while the main points are outlined in the synopsis below:

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Thus begins the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, by which Pope Francis develops the theme of the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world, drawn from, among other sources, the contribution of the work of the Synod held in the Vatican, from 7 to 28 October 2012, on the theme “The new evangelization for the transmission of the faith”. “I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (1). It is a heartfelt appeal to all baptized persons to bring Christ’s love to others, “permanently in a state of mission” (25), conquering “the great danger in today’s world”, that of an individualist “desolation and anguish” (2).

The Pope invites the reader to “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, finding “new avenues” and “new paths of creativity”, without enclosing Jesus in “dull categories” (11). There is a need for a “pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they presently are” (25) and a “renewal” of ecclesiastical structures to enable them to become “more mission-oriented” (27). The Pontiff also considers “a conversion of the papacy” to help make this ministry “more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization”. The hope that the Episcopal Conferences might contribute to “the concrete realization of the collegial spirit”, he states, “has not been fully realized” (32). A “sound decentralization” is necessary (16). In this renewal, the Church should not be afraid to re-examine “certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some of which have deep historical roots” (43).

A sign of God’s openness is “that our church doors should always be open” so that those who seek God “will not find a closed door”; “nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason”. The Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness” (47). He repeats that he prefers “a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church … concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us … it is the fact that many of our brothers and sisters are living without … the friendship of Jesus Christ” (49).

The Pope indicates the “temptations which affect pastoral workers” (77): “individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour” (78). The greatest threat of all is “the grey pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, which in reality faith is wearing down” (83). He warns against “defeatism” (84), urging Christians to be signs of hope (86), bringing about a “revolution of tenderness” (88). It is necessary to seek refuge from the “spirituality of well-being … detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters” (90) and to vanquish the “spiritual worldliness” that consists of “seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and well-being” (93). The Pope speaks of the many who “feel superior to others” because “they remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past” whereby “instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others” (94). And those who have “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact” on the needs of the people (95). This is “a tremendous corruption disguised as a good 

… God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” (97).
He appeals to ecclesial communities not to fall prey to envy and jealousy: “How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities!” (98). “Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?” (100). He highlights the need to promote the growth of the responsibility of the laity, often kept “away from decision-making” by “an excessive clericalism” (102). He adds that there is a need for “still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church”, in particular “in the various settings where important decisions are made” (103). “Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected … cannot be lightly evaded” (104). The young should “exercise greater leadership” (106). With regard to the scarcity of vocations in many places, he emphasizes that “seminaries cannot accept candidates on the basis of any motivation whatsoever” (107).

With regard to the theme of inculturation, he remarks that “Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression” and that the face of the Church is “varied” (116). “We cannot demand that peoples of every continent, in expressing their Christian faith, imitate modes of expression which European nations developed at a particular moment of their history” (118). The Pope reiterates that “underlying popular piety … is an active evangelizing power” (126) and encourages the research of theologians, reminding them however that “the Church and theology exist to evangelize” and urges them not to be “content with a desk-bound theology” (133).

He focuses “somewhat meticulously, on the homily”, since “many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry and we cannot simply ignore them” (135). The homily “should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture” (138); it should be a “heart-to-heart communication” and avoid “purely moralistic or doctrinaire” preaching (142). He highlights the importance of preparation: “a preacher who does not prepare is not ‘spiritual’; he is dishonest and irresponsible” (145). Preaching should always be positive in order always to “offer hope” and “does not leave us trapped in negativity” (159). The approach to the proclamation of the Gospel should have positive characteristics: “approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome, which is non-judgmental” (165).

In relation to the challenges of the contemporary world, the Pope denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root” (59). “Such an economy kills” because the law of “the survival of the fittest” prevails. The current culture of the “disposable” has created “something new”: “the excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’” (53). “A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual”, of an “autonomy of the market” in which “financial speculation” and “widespread corruption” and “self-serving tax-evasion reign” (56). He also denounces “attacks on religious freedom” and the “new persecutions directed against Christians. … In many places the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism” (61). The family, the Pope continues, “is experiencing a profound cultural crisis”. Reiterating the indispensable contribution of marriage to society” (66), he underlines that “the individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which … distorts family bonds” (67).

He re-emphasizes “the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement” (178) and the right of pastors “to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives” (182). “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society”. He quotes John Paul II, who said that the Church “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice” (183). “For the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category” rather than a sociological one. “This is why I want a Church that is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us” (198). “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved … no solution will be found for this world’s problems” (202). “Politics, although often denigrated”, he affirms, “remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity”. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by … the lives of the poor!” (205). He adds an admonition: “Any Church community”, if it believes it can forget about the poor, runs the risk of “breaking down”.

The Pope urges care for the weakest members of society: “the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned” and migrants, for whom the Pope exhorts “a generous openness” (210). He speaks about the victims of trafficking and new forms of slavery: “This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity” (211). “Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence” (212). “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity” (213). “The Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question … it is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life” (214). The Pope makes an appeal for respect for all creation: we “are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live” (216).

With regard to the theme of peace, the Pope affirms that “a prophetic voice must be raised” against attempts at false reconciliation to “silence or appease” the poor, while others “refuse to renounce their privileges” (218). For the construction of a society “in peace, justice and fraternity” he indicates four principles (221): “Time is greater than space” (222) means working “slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results” (223). “Unity prevails over conflict” (226) means “a diversified and life-giving unity” (228). “Realities are more important than ideas” (231) means avoiding “reducing politics or faith to rhetoric” (232). “The whole is greater than the part” means bringing together “globalization and localization” (234).

“Evangelization also involves the path of dialogue,” the Pope continues, which opens the Church to collaboration with all political, social, religious and cultural spheres (238). Ecumenism is “an indispensable path to evangelization”. Mutual enrichment is important: “we can learn so much from one another!” For example “in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of Episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality” (246); “dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples” (248); “interreligious dialogue”, which must be conducted “clear and joyful in one’s own identity”, is “a necessary condition for peace in the world” and does not obscure evangelization (250-251); in our times, “our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance” (252). The Pope “humbly” entreats those countries of Islamic tradition to guarantee religious freedom to Christians, also “in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries!” “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism” he urges us to “avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (253). And against the attempt to private religions in some contexts, he affirms that “the respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions” (255). He then repeats the importance of dialogue and alliance between believers and non-believers (257).

The final chapter is dedicated to “spirit-filled evangelizers”, who are those who are “fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit” and who have “the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition” (259). These are “evangelizers who pray and work” (262), in the knowledge that “mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people” (268): “Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others” (270). He explains: “In our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns” (271). “Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary” (272); “if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life” (274). The Pope urges us not to be discouraged before failure or scarce results, since “fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable”; we must know “only that our commitment is necessary” (279). The exhortation concludes with a prayer to Mary, “Mother of Evangelization”. “There is a Marian ‘style’ to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness” (288).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homily at Year of Faith closing Mass

Pope Francis: Homily at Year of Faith closing Mass

2013-11-24 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass on Sunday to mark the Solemnity of Christ the King and close the Year of Faith proclaimed by his predecessor, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. Below, please find the official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks.

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long.
I offer a cordial greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price. With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord.
The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ as the centre of creation, the centre of his people and the centre of history. 1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20).
This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. When this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves.2. Besides being the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.
Christ, the descendant of King David, is the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one; united with him, we share a single journey, a single destiny. 3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of the human race and of every man and woman. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.
While all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clinging to the crucified Jesus, begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). And Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom!
Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Amen!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bishop Paprocki's Homily on Marriage during Solemn Exorcism

"This is a key point which the secularists are missing: they think that stressing God’s mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God’s mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness."


Paprocki3In a much-publicized event on Wednesday that coincided with Governor Pat Quinn signing gay marriage into law in Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield led the faithful in“Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage.”
In his homily at the service, Bishop Paprocki demonstrated once again why he is emerging as one of the most articulate, steadfast, and intrepid defenders of marriage in the Catholic Church in America.
Bishop Paprocki’s entire homilyis worth reading.  Here I’ve excerpted some of the highlights.
A few of the quotes are longer than others, but worth it.  Some contain quotes by Pope Francis, the Catechism, or Scripture.  Some of the quotes are poignant and direct.  Some are explanatory and edifying.  Some show Bishop Paprocki’s courage.  Others show his humility.  Others, his compassion.
They all show charity, and they all show a shepherd who loves Christ, the Church, and the souls he is charged with with apostolic zeal.
1.   I wish to preface my reflections by saying that I am conducting this prayer service and am speaking to you now with great reluctance. I did not seek to enter any controversy and I don’t relish being part of one. But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers.
2.   Our prayers at this time are prompted by the fact that the Governor of Illinois today is signing into Illinois law the redefinition of civil marriage, introducing not only an unprecedented novelty into our state law, but also institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality.
3.   It is not hateful to say that an immoral action is sinful. On the contrary, the most compassionate thing we can do is help people to turn away from sin. To ignore another person’s wrongful actions is a sign of apathy or indifference, while fraternal correction is motivated by love for that person’s well-being, as can be seen by the fact that our Lord Jesus himself urged such correction. Indeed, the call to repentance is at the heart of the Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15).
4.   The Good News is that God’s mercy and forgiveness extend to those who repent. Mercy does not mean approving of something that is sinful, but does absolve the wrongdoer after a change of heart takes place in the sinner through the gift of God’s grace.
5.   I do not stand here before you as a self-righteous saint who has achieved spiritual perfection, but as a sinner who has received Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior.
6.   This is a key point which the secularists are missing: they think that stressing God’s mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God’s mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness.
7.   The fact is that a “minor exorcism” takes place in every Baptism and Confirmation ceremony when we renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises. This prayer service will be along those lines. I’m not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil, which, if that were the case, would require the remedy of a “Major Exorcism,” but all of us are certainly subject to the devil’s evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil.
8.   Our prayer service today and my words are not meant to demonize anyone, but are intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the Church. These demonic influences are not readily apparent to the undiscerning eye, which is why they are so deceptive.
9.   The deception of the Devil in same-sex marriage may be understood by recalling the words of Pope Francis when he faced a similar situation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010. Regarding the proposed redefinition of civil marriage in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote on June 22, 2010, “The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same sex. The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. . . . Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a ‘move’ of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”   The Pope’s reference to the “father of lies” comes from the Gospel of John (8:44), where Jesus refers to the devil as “a liar and the father of lies.” So Pope Francis is saying that same-sex “marriage” comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.
10.   The work of discouragement by the Devil in same-sex marriage is apparent in the message being conveyed to defenders of traditional marriage that the universal redefinition of marriage is unstoppable, so we might as well just stop trying. But the legalization of abortion on demand forty years ago did not silence those who believe that abortion is contrary to God’s law. On the contrary, Roe v. Wade only heightened the need for more concerted efforts to protect all human life from conception to natural death. So, too, the legal redefinition of civil marriage does not put an end to the need for discourse and action to defend natural marriage in accord with God’s plan, but only serves to heighten the need for greater efforts in this regard.
11.   Politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.
12.   We must also affirm the teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” The Church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion, offering assistance through support groups such as the Courage Apostolate to live in accord with the virtue of chastity. Indeed, all people all called to chastity, which for a man and woman united in matrimony means for the husband and wife to be faithful to each other.