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Nation, world need gifts Latinos have to offer, says Archbishop Gomez

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Catholic News Service

CHICAGO — Latino Catholics have many gifts and values to benefit the church and society and the time is now to embrace them and share them.

“America needs our gifts. Our world needs our gifts,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, at the opening of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders annual conference held Aug. 18-21 in downtown Chicago. Read more »

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Pope asks Jesuits to help diocesan clergy in pastoral discernment — ‘The shades of gray prevail in life’

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Catholic News Service

ROME — When it comes to the Christian life, too many seminaries teach students a rigid list of rules that make it difficult or impossible for them as priests to respond to the real-life situation of those who come to them seeking guidance, Pope Francis said. Read more »

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Sunday Scripture readings, Aug. 28, 2016

August 25th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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August 28, Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11
2) Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

 
The American storyteller Mark Twain is credited with the saying, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Essentially, Twain is insisting that “words matter.” Read more »

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‘I strive to continue’ — Retired Pope Benedict says he felt a ‘duty’ to resign

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Retired Pope Benedict XVI said in an interview that he felt a “duty” to resign from the papacy because of his declining health and the rigorous demands of papal travel. Read more »

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Look it up: Children as the supreme gift to a marriage

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Catholic News Service

In the apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis writes much about the importance of accepting children in marriage. The chapter titled “Love Made Fruitful” focuses primarily on this point, that “love always gives life.”

The pope notes that “the family is the setting in which a new life is not only born but also welcomed as a gift of God. Each new life allows us to appreciate the utterly gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to amaze us. It is the beauty of being loved first: Children are loved even before they arrive.”

The Bible makes the point that the person who accepts children lovingly from God is blessed. As Psalm 127:3-5 puts it, “Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.” Genesis 1:28 says, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the importance of fertility in marriage. Quoting, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the catechism in No. 1652 says, “By its very nature, the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them it finds its crowning glory.”

The catechism adds that “children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves.” In so doing, marriage is at the service of life.

The catechism encourages (in No. 1654) those who cannot have children to have a “conjugal life full of meaning,” radiating the fruits of charity, hospitality and sacrifice.

In the Catholic rite of matrimony, the couple is asked, “Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church?” In their consent to this question, the couple commits themselves to bring new life into the world.

In this way, says the catechism in No. 1639, the “covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant” with us, and “authentic married love is caught up into divine love.”

While children are to be accepted willingly and loving, Pope Francis also notes that “couples are to use their inviolable liberty wisely and responsibly” in deciding how many children to have and when to have them.

Having children brings with it the requirement to educate and nurture them, and prepare them for life everlasting, and couples must be aware of this responsibility.

(Mulhall is a freelance writer and a catechist. He is father of three children and has two grandchildren.)

 

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Loving children in our families can help us love the world

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Catholic News Service

When my daughter drives her 18-month-old, Charlotte, to the nanny, she recites the same simple morning offering that my kids and I used to pray each morning as I drove them to Catholic grade school.

A family prays together before a meal in 2012 at their Chicago home. The Bible makes the point that the person who accepts children lovingly from God is blessed. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

A family prays together before a meal in 2012 at their Chicago home. The Bible makes the point that the person who accepts children lovingly from God is blessed. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

I’m touched by this, not just because little Charlotte is learning the concept of prayer, but because it carries a bit of family continuity. I laughed to hear that when the prayer is over, Charlotte voices an exuberant “Amen!”

On one ride, she added the same enthusiastic amen to the “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but that’s OK. She’s got time to figure out this prayer business, and she has a loving family to assist her as she does.

In reading Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), it’s apparent that he is a man with a deep appreciation for the joys of family life and the welcoming of children into our families and into our faith. I think I could tell him my Charlotte story and find him nodding in amused understanding.

In a chapter titled “Love Made Fruitful,” the pope tells us love always gives life. And he means that in the broadest possible sense. The deep love we have for our children must extend to the wider world.

Love, the pope says, is a spiritual gift, and we are called to give this gift. True love begins by acknowledging that we are deeply loved by God. Pope Francis expresses the human person’s precious worth when he says, “Once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true.”

What a beautiful place to begin personal prayer, accepting that we, and our children, and the children of the world, are the eternal dream of the Creator.

Pope Francis asserts, “I certainly value feminism, but one that does not demand uniformity or negate motherhood.” All good Catholic feminists can applaud this statement.

Likewise, he insists on the important value that both a mother and father offer in the life of a child. But he doesn’t hearken back to a time where dad ruled supreme. Far from it.

“In some homes, authoritarianism once reigned and at times, even oppression,” he reminds us. Pope Francis endorses a graceful balance of the gifts that men and women bring to family life. Today, he notices, the problem is often not the overbearing presence of a father, but the frequent absence of the dad.

In the best of young families today, as in my daughter’s marriage, you see a balance and sharing of household chores, child care, affection and authority. Any dad who doesn’t do diapers today or neglects the bonding of early parenthood is indeed treading close to dinosaur territory.

And when the pope says that “love always gives life,” he’s not just talking about our insular nuclear family. Jesus, in Matthew 7:11, reminds us that even those who are evil do good things for their children. We are called to love beyond this measure.

Pope Francis speaks enthusiastically of foster care and adoption, of “the larger family” where we must welcome life and provide love to those who lack the support of their own family.

We teach our kids this wider meaning of life-giving love. We take them to help at the food pantry, teach them to defend the child who is bullied, encourage them to understand the meaning of a hearty “amen” to our family prayer.

From the warm heart of a good marriage, two people are called to welcome not just their own children, and later grandchildren, as gifts from God, but to extend that life-giving love and welcoming other children of God into the world. Pope Francis reminds us “that faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it.”

(Caldarola is a freelance writer and columnist for Catholic News Service. She lives in Omaha,

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Love made fruitful: Welcoming the gift of children

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Catholic News Service

What is a gift?

In our contemporary world, a gift is something to be unwrapped, looked upon, acknowledged and then it can be used, or set aside, or stashed and forgotten about. It can be returned or exchanged, maybe for something “better,” or something more appropriate.

Pope Francis pours water over the head of a baby as he celebrates the baptism of 26 babies in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 10. In reading Pope Francis' exhortation, "The Joy of Love," it's apparent that he is a man with a deep appreciation for the joys of family life and the welcoming of children into our families and into our faith. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis pours water over the head of a baby as he celebrates the baptism of 26 babies in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 10. In reading Pope Francis’ exhortation, “The Joy of Love,” it’s apparent that he is a man with a deep appreciation for the joys of family life and the welcoming of children into our families and into our faith. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

In other words, we may or may not welcome these gifts, depending on how they fit into our lives. So how do we regard the gifts God gives us — specifically, the gift of children?

Children are a product of the greatest of God’s gifts, the gifts of love and life, Pope Francis declares in “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), in a chapter that speaks about welcoming children into a family. “Love always gives life,” he writes.

“Each new life,” he continues, “allows us to appreciate the utterly gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to amaze us. It is the beauty of being loved first: Children are loved even before they arrive.”

And that “gift of a new child, entrusted by the Lord to a father and a mother, begins with acceptance, continues with lifelong protection and has as its final goal the joy of eternal life.”

Our challenge, of course, is to recognize children as God’s gifts to us and not to fret over whether we can afford them or whether they will somehow inconvenience us as we pursue our chosen course in life.

“Some parents,” Pope Francis notes, “feel that their child is not coming at the best time.” Or, maybe we welcome children, but on our terms, as if they were a means to achieve what we want. And, if they don’t meet our needs, we regard them as disappointing.

“It is important,” the pope reminds us, “for that child to feel wanted. He or she is not an accessory or a solution to some personal need. A child is a human being of immense worth and may never be used for one’s own benefit. So it matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations.”

That means we welcome children not because they are cute, not because they entertain us in one way or another, not because we can mold and shape them like pieces of clay into whatever we want.

“We love our children because they are children,” says the pope, “not because they are beautiful, or look or think as we do, or embody our dreams. We love them because they are children.”

Jesus knew this, certainly better than his disciples did, or at least those disciples who complained when children seemed to interfere with whatever Jesus (and the disciples) were doing. “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them” Jesus told his disciples, no doubt rather sternly. “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).

The Gospels of Mark (9:37) and Luke (9:48) further recount Jesus’ admonition to his disciples, spoken as he embraced a child: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

It’s important here to note the context of Jesus’ words. His disciples had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest, which prompted Jesus to say, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mk 9:35).

That shouldn’t be ignored by those of us who are parents. In fully receiving and welcoming the gift of children, it’s not our needs — our job, our night out, our sleeping late — that come first.

There is something else worth contemplating, at least for those of us who not only believe in responding to Jesus’ call to “go and make disciples,” but welcome that call as well.

“By their witness as well as their words, families speak to others of Jesus,” says Pope Francis. “They pass on the faith, they arouse a desire for God and they reflect the beauty of the Gospel and its way of life. … Their fruitfulness expands and in countless ways makes God’s love present in society.”

By welcoming children, we welcome the opportunity to pass on our faith — to teach our young people the value of feeding the poor, comforting the afflicted, seeking justice for the lowly and, yes, welcoming all of God’s children into the family of the kingdom.

“Children are a gift,” writes Pope Francis. “Each one is unique and irreplaceable.” Like all of God’s gifts, they are not something that we earn, not something we deserve. They are generous signs of God’s love for all of us.

“We are all sons and daughters,” the pope reminds us. “And this always brings us back to the fact that we did not give ourselves life but that we received it. The great gift of life is the first gift that we received.”

And, like Jesus, we are called to welcome and embrace these gifts with joy.

(Nelson is former editor of The Tidings, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.)

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Living Our Faith — Welcoming Children in ‘The Joy of Love’

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A woman holds her baby as Sister Brigid Ancilla, a member of the Sisters of Life, looks on during the annual Mother's Day celebration May 8 at the religious community's retreat house in Stamford, Conn. Children are a product of the greatest of God's gifts, the gifts of love and life, Pope Francis declares in "The Joy of Love," in a chapter that speaks about welcoming children into a family. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

A woman holds her baby as Sister Brigid Ancilla, a member of the Sisters of Life, looks on during the annual Mother’s Day celebration May 8 at the religious community’s retreat house in Stamford, Conn. Children are a product of the greatest of God’s gifts, the gifts of love and life, Pope Francis declares in “The Joy of Love,” in a chapter that speaks about welcoming children into a family. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Children are a product of the greatest of God’s gifts, the gifts of love and life, Pope Francis declares in “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), in a chapter that speaks about welcoming children into a family. “Love always gives life,” he writes.

“Each new life,” he continues, “allows us to appreciate the utterly gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to amaze us. It is the beauty of being loved first: Children are loved even before they arrive.”

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Sunday Scripture readings, Aug. 21, 2016

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Catholic News Service

Aug. 21, Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Isaiah 66:18-21

Psalm 117:1-2

2) Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

Gospel: Luke 13:22-30

The final part of the Gospel for this week speaks of an event many of us are looking forward to with eagerness. Jesus says, “And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

“I come to gather nations of every language.” — Isaiah 66:18a

“I come to gather nations of every language.” — Isaiah 66:18a

Having lived a pretty privileged first-world life, I’m not looking to rise in the rankings in the kingdom of God. But it has also been my privilege to know many people, despised because of their poverty and their lack of education, who will.

My wife has the added privilege of working with the poor in the form of refugees and immigrants who have literally come from the east and the west, the north and the south: from Africa, Asia and from all of Latin America.

They come here with hope and a vision to achieve a new life free from fear and free to earn a living that will sustain them and their families.

Though not all are virtuous to a fault, most of them have grown up in families where they were nurtured and protected. However, some fight against deeply dysfunctional family dynamics that caused them to live on the streets in their home countries. But they do fight their circumstances, and my wife and her co-workers at her school assist them, offering them a hand up through education, kindness, empathy and simply the presence of a listening ear.

Many, though not all, are believers. Some follow the Hindu and Muslim faiths.

Many of them will someday be among those our Savior greets in eternity in the kingdom of God, where, having experienced life in this world among “the last,” they will everlastingly experience life in the kingdom among “the first” as they recline at the table with our Lord.

Questions:

Who do you know whose lives in this world would put them in the category of “the last”? In what way are you looking forward to seeing them experience life among “the first” in the kingdom?

 

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Look it up: Mother Teresa on abortion

August 15th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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The woman known to the world as Mother Teresa originally came to India to teach the children of the privileged. She eventually heard the call of the Lord to leave the security of the convent to serve the least of all, people thrown away by society, left to die in the streets.

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, paving the way for her canonization in 2016. This Dec. 12, 1979, photo shows Mother Teresa in Oslo, Norway, after receiving the Nobel Peace Price. (CNS/EPA)

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, paving the way for her canonization in 2016. This Dec. 12, 1979, photo shows Mother Teresa in Oslo, Norway, after receiving the Nobel Peace Price. (CNS/EPA)

But her humble and quiet work among these poorest of the poor could not remain hidden for long. Eventually she was acclaimed by the elite of the world, who invited her to address them at various VIP events.

So in the last decade of her life, Mother Teresa spoke at international conferences, congressional prayer breakfasts and the United Nations. She even traveled to Oslo, Norway, to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

In her addresses to the powerful of the earth, there were several recurring themes. She often spoke about obstacles to peace and solutions to poverty. Repeatedly, however, she identified the evil that she saw to be the epitome of violence and poverty in the world — abortion.

For Mother Teresa, the second greatest poverty in the world is the experience of being rejected and cast off by society. The greatest poverty is the spiritual emptiness that causes people to discard other human beings as useless objects.

Mother Teresa also identified abortion as the greatest threat to peace in the world. For abortion is not simply a matter of the abandonment and indifference suffered by the poor dying in the streets of Kolkata. It is an act of intentional violence, of direct killing as a means to an end.

In her acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, she told her distinguished audience: “Millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child — what is left but for me to kill you and you kill me?”

When she spoke before U.S. government officials, many of whom had campaigned in favor of abortion, she said: “By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

In her strong, unambiguous denunciation of abortion, Mother Teresa is a model of prophetic courage. But to her condemnation she added other words that show us what an integrated, consistent pro-life position truly looks like.

At the 1994 International Conference on Population in Cairo, she said, “If there is a child that you don’t want or can’t feed or educate, give that child to me. I will not refuse any child. I will give a home or find loving parents for him or for her.” Authentic pro-life witness must not simply condemn the crime, but welcome the child.

By Marcellino D’Ambrosio

D’Ambrosio is co-founder of Crossroads Productions, an apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization.

 

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