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Sunday Scripture readings, Nov. 27, 2016

November 23rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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First Sunday of Advent

            Cycle A. Readings:

            1) Isaiah 2:1-5

            Psalm 122:1-9

            2) Romans 13:11-14

            Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44

            Noah’s neighbors were so engrossed in celebrating their good fortune that they were caught unprepared for the calamity of the Flood. Had they invited the less-fortunate villagers, perhaps the party may have ended in joy. Read more »

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Everyone experiences doubts about the faith at times, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Everyone experiences doubts about the faith at times. “I have” many times, Pope Francis said, but such doubts can be “a sign that we want to know God better and more deeply.” Read more »

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Look It Up: O Root of Jesse’s Stem

November 23rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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In his recent book “The Hidden Life of Trees,” Peter Wohlleben compellingly describes how the stump of a tree that had been felled several hundred years ago was still producing new life because of the activity taking place underground. Unseen to human eyes, the ancient stump was being nourished by sugar pumped to its roots by the surrounding trees.

The prophet Isaiah knew nothing of this, of course, but based on the reading from his book for the second Sunday of Advent, we might be tempted to think he did. In Advent we look forward to the incarnation of God’s Son, a cosmic event in which God blessed all of creation in a special way. Read more »

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How to make a Jesse tree with your family in Advent

November 23rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

This time of year most of us aren’t thinking about the weeds in our garden. But after spending much of the summer battling unwanted vines in our yard, I’ve learned something about the power of long roots. They ground us, pun intended, and connect us to something beyond ourselves. Read more »

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Living our faith in Advent: Are we ready to receive Jesus?

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Catholic News Service

Advent is a time for serious reflection on our lives as disciples of Jesus, whose return we are called not simply to expect but to prepare for with great care as well as great joy. Read more »

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Living Our Faith: Advent week two

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The reading from Isaiah for the second Sunday in Advent is replete with imagery of the natural world that expresses the anticipation and then the joy of Christ’s coming on earth. Read more »

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Pitt, Cotilliard play spies with great sense of fashion in ‘Allied’

November 23rd, 2016 Posted in Movies

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Catholic News Service

Like time travelers from the Golden Age of Hollywood studio films, the characters played by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in “Allied” don’t allow a little event like World War II to muss their elegant coifs.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard star in a scene from the movie "Allied." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Daniel Smith, Paramount)

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard star in a scene from the movie “Allied.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Daniel Smith, Paramount)

Whether taking out the German ambassador in Casablanca with their burp guns or having their daughter born outdoors in London during an air raid, this perpetually chic couple keeps matters neat and nice, laundered and pressed.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The overwrought plot, which combines doomed love, purse-lipped Nazis and occasional choruses of chanteuse Rina Ketty’s occupation-resonant hit “J’attendrai” (“I Will Wait”), has no surprises.

So why not enjoy the journey as a costume drama? Cotillard’s impressive collection of silk negligees and Pitt’s crisp double-breasted suits are their own show.

The downfall of such an approach comes, however, when the duo shed their clothes, as they do more than once, to demonstrate that they are lustily in love. These peeks into the bedroom considerably restrict the appropriate audience for director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Steven Knight’s drama.

Pitt’s Max, a Canadian wing commander, and Cotillard’s Marianne, a French resistance fighter with a murky past, are first shown as part of an espionage operation in which they have to pass themselves off as husband and wife.

In keeping with the cherished rules of this formula, they hit it off for real, and decide on a hasty wedding in London, despite a warning from Max’s commanding officer, Frank (Jared Harris). “Marriages made in the field,” he admonishes, “never work.”

Oh, but theirs flourishes. At least, it does so until Max is summoned to an underground warren to be informed that British intelligence thinks Marianne, who allegedly took part in a botched mission in Paris, may not be the person she appears to be. In fact, she may be passing secrets to the enemy.

The resulting stakes are nothing short of staggering: If the accusation against Marianne turns out to be true, Max himself will be obliged to shoot her.

At that point, the story finally gains traction as stiff-upper-lip style military duty competes with lush romantic pathos.

The film contains strong sexual content, including brief but graphic premarital sex, an aberrant act, upper female and rear nudity, some combat violence, occasional profanity and frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted..

 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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Cardinal Dolan urges stronger effort to stop physician-assisted suicide

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WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has called for increased efforts and “renewed vigor” to stop legalized physician-assisted suicide after the practice was approved by voters in Colorado and the District of Columbia City Council.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York urged Catholics to join medical professionals, disability rights groups and others “in fighting for the authentic care” of people facing terminal illness in a statement released Nov. 21.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan speaks Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan speaks Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

“The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients.”

His concern comes after voters in Colorado passed a physician-assisted suicide measure that was on the ballot Nov. 8. The law also allows insurance companies to refuse treatment of patients they consider terminal.

Colorado became the sixth state in the nation with a so-called “right-to-die law,” joining Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont and Montana.

In Washington, D.C. City Council members in a second vote Nov. 15 approved the “Death with Dignity Act” that permits physicians in the district to legally prescribe the drugs to patients who have been deemed mentally competent and who have received a terminal diagnosis of six months or less. Under the measure, third parties are allowed to administer the drugs used in the procedure. The bill goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser to veto it, sign it or let it become law without any action on her part. If it becomes law, it would be subject to congressional review before it takes affect.

Cardinal Dolan called the district’s measure “the most expansive and dangerous so far” because it opens “the door to even further coercion and abuse.”

“Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick,” the cardinal added. “But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good.

“We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination,” he continued. “This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection.”

Seriously ill people require “authentic support, including doctors fully committed to their welfare and pain management as they enter their final days,” the statement said. “Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden; that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide 2011 titled “To Live Each Day with Dignity,” the full text is online at http://bit.ly/2ga5cht.  

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Rwanda bishops ask forgiveness for Catholics’ role in 1994 genocide

November 22nd, 2016 Posted in Featured, International News

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Catholic News Service

MONTREAL — The Catholic bishops of Rwanda asked forgiveness for Catholics’ role in the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed.

The letter was published to coincide with the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. All the bishops in the country signed the three-page document, which was read in every church Nov. 20.

A boy takes part in a torchlight march for the victims of the Rwanda genocide, in Brussels, Belgium, in this 2014 file photo. In a letter to mark the end of the Year of Mercy, Rwanda's Catholic bishops asked forgiveness for Catholics' role in the genocide, in which more than 800,000 people -- mostly Tutsis -- were killed. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA)

A boy takes part in a torchlight march for the victims of the Rwanda genocide, in Brussels, Belgium, in this 2014 file photo. In a letter to mark the end of the Year of Mercy, Rwanda’s Catholic bishops asked forgiveness for Catholics’ role in the genocide, in which more than 800,000 people — mostly Tutsis — were killed. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA)

Written in Kinyarwanda, it should soon be translated in English and French, Rwanda’s other official languages.

In 14 points, the bishops ask forgiveness for the role that some members of the Catholic Church played during the genocide, especially for the pastors that “sowed seeds of hate,” said French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

Criticized for its proximity with the Hutu regime at that time, priests and religious are still facing justice for what they did before and during the genocide. However, Catholic authorities, both in Rome and in Kigali, have always said that they never ordered killings.

Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, president of the Rwandese bishops’ conference, told Radio France Internationale that forgiveness was mostly asked for all Christians involved in the genocide, not so much for the church as an institution.

During the 1994 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, St. John Paul II spoke out against the violence that started after the attack on the plane carrying the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi. For the centenary of the Rwandese church in 2001, bishops from all of the country’s nine dioceses expressed regrets. At that time, many deemed these apologies were not enough.

Bishop Rukamba also told RFI that the bishops of Rwanda would again ask forgiveness in 2019, for the genocide’s 25th anniversary.

From April to July 1994, between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Some massacres occurred in churches.

 

Vaillancourt is editor of Presence info in Montreal.

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Pope Francis chooses Mary as focus for upcoming World Youth Day celebrations

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has chosen a focus on Mary for the next World Youth Day celebrations, which will be held in dioceses in 2017 and 2018 and with an international gathering in Panama in 2019.

The pope has highlighted the way the Mother of Jesus was always open to the Lord’s will and has described her “as a role model to be imitated,” said the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life in a press release Nov. 22.

A statue of Mary and the Christ child are seen Nov. 12 at Our Lady of the Island Shrine in Eastport, N.Y. Pope Francis has chosen a focus on Mary for the next World Youth Day celebrations, which will be held in dioceses in 2017 and 2018 and as an international gathering in Panama in 2019. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

A statue of Mary and the Christ child are seen Nov. 12 at Our Lady of the Island Shrine in Eastport, N.Y. Pope Francis has chosen a focus on Mary for the next World Youth Day celebrations, which will be held in dioceses in 2017 and 2018 and as an international gathering in Panama in 2019. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The themes “are intended to give a clear Marian tone to the spiritual journey” of the next three World Youth Days as well as to “give a picture of young people on a journey between the past (2017), present (2018) and future (2019), inspired by the three theological virtues of faith, charity and hope.”

World Youth Day is celebrated annually on a local level, and every two or three years with an international gathering with the pope. At the end of the World Youth Day celebration in July in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis announced the next international gathering would be held in Panama in 2019.

The annual Rome diocesan celebration with the pope is held on Palm Sunday each year; the date of the celebration in other dioceses varies.

The themes chosen by the pope, the dicastery said, were:

  • For 2017: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:49).
  • For 2018: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30).
  • For 2019: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).

This journey the pope is proposing to young people coincides with the reflection the pope “has entrusted to the next Synod of Bishops: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” the press release said.

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