Friday, October 31, 2014

Here is the final English translation of the Synod's final document

Here is the final official English translation from the Synod.  May I humbly suggest that all Catholics and peoples of good faith read this thoroughly, prayerfully, let it sink in and read it again:

Remember, still to come is the ordinary Synod next year.

Pope speaks of unity in diversity and the value of praise in prayer

Pope: Seek the unity which is the work of the Holy Spirit

Pope Francis speaks to the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships - AFP

(Vatican Radio) On Friday Pope Francis met with members of the “Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship.” The group is in Rome for its Sixteenth International Conference, which has for its theme “Praise and charismatic worship for a New Evangelization.”
The Holy Father touched on several themes in his address to the group, beginning with the idea of “unity in diversity.” “Unity does not imply uniformity,” the Pope said. “It does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way. Nor does it signify a loss of identity. Unity in diversity is actually the opposite: it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of these gifts at the service of all members of the Church.”
Pope Francis also spoke about the Church’s need for the Holy Spirit. “Every Christian in his or her life requires a heart open to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit.” He encouraged his listeners to share their experience of Holy Spirit with others.
The theme of the Conference, “Praise and charismatic worship for a New Evangelization,” prompted the Pope to speak about prayer and praise. Using the image of breathing, the Holy Father said, “Breathing is made up of two stages: inhaling, the intake of air, and exhaling, the letting out of this air. The spiritual life is fed, nourished, by prayer and is expressed outwardly through mission: inhaling and exhaling. When we inhale, by prayer, we receive the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. When exhaling this air, we announce Jesus Christ risen by the same Spirit. No one can live without breathing. It is the same for the Christian: without praise and mission there is no Christian life.”
Finally, Pope Francis reminded his audience that “the Charismatic Renewal is, by its very nature, ecumenical.” Spiritual ecumenism, he said, “is praying and proclaiming together that Jesus is Lord, and coming together to help the poor in all their poverty. Today the blood of Jesus, poured out by many Christian martyrs in various parts of the world, calls us and compels us towards the goal of unity.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The perfect Saint for Halloween

St. Wolfgang

Image of St. Wolfgang


Feastday: October 31
Death: 994

Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, Germany, he studied at Reichenau under the Benedictines and at Wurzburg before serving as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. He soon entered the Benedictines at Einsiedeln (964) and was appointed head of the monastery school, receiving ordination in 971. He then set out with a group of monks to preach among the Magyars of Hungary, but the following year (972) was named bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II (r. 973-983). As bishop, he distinguished himself brilliantly for his reforming zeal and his skills as a statesman. He brought the clergy of the diocese into his reforms, restored monasteries, promoted education, preached enthusiastically, and was renowned for his charity and aid to the poor, receiving the title Eleemosynarius Major (Grand Almoner). He also served as tutor to Emperor Henry II (r. 1014-1024) while he was still king. Wolfgang died at Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052 by Pope St. Leo IX (r. 1049-1054). Feast day: October 31.

Catholics and celebrating Halloween

Catholics: It's ok to celebrate Halloween; you can even say "trick or treat"
Seasonal Features

Celebrating Halloween, All Saints

Days observed and celebrated by secular society can connect to important faith-related concepts for children and families. In excerpts from Celebrating Saints and Seasons, author Jeanne Hunt suggests ways parents and teachers can make Halloween and All Saints Day come alive for children in faith-filled and fun experiences.

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins. But do you know the Christian connection to the holiday?

Catholics and Halloween

How can Catholics celebrate Halloween in the context of their Christian faith? Listen to American Catholic Radio to find out.

Why do we carve pumpkins for Halloween? Read a story from Catholic Update that explains the origin of this yearly tradition.

What are Catholics to think about the devil, exorcism, psychic hotlines, fortune tellers, ESP, ghosts and magic in the light of current Church teaching? Curiosity about the supernatural is normal especially for teenagers during Halloween but is it “of the devil” as some Christians claim?

How can Catholics keep All Hallows Eve from becoming “hollow”? Celebrate Halloween and All Saints Day while remembering both the Christian connection to Halloween and the positive messages that stem from the holiday.

Pope Francis: Devil is real and we must fight against him

The devil is no myth – he's real and we must fight him, Pope says

Pope Francis greets the faithful at St. Stanislaus parish in Rome on May 4, 2014. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.
Pope Francis greets the faithful at St. Stanislaus parish in Rome on May 4, 2014. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.

.- In his homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said that the devil is more than an idea, and in order to fight him, we must follow St. Paul’s instructions and put on the armor of God which protects us.

“In this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha house for his Oct. 30 daily Mass.

He turned to St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, from which the day’s first reading was taken and in which the apostle warns against the temptations of the devil, telling Christians to clothe themselves with the armor of God so they can resist.

Pope Francis said that a Christian life requires both strength and courage, and needs to be defended because it is a constant battle with the devil, who tempts with worldly attractions, the passions and our flesh.

“From whom do I have to defend myself? What must I do?” he asked, saying that St. Paul tells us to “put on God’s full armor, meaning that God acts as a defense, helping us to resist Satan’s temptations. Is this clear?”

No spiritual or Christian life is possible without the need to resist temptation, the Roman Pontiff observed, explaining how our battle is not with small, trivial things, but rather with the principalities and ruling forces of this world, which are rooted in the devil and his followers.

The Bishop of Rome pointed out how there are many in the current generation who no longer believe in the devil, but rather think of him as “a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil.”

However the devil does exist and we must constantly be on guard, he said, noting how “Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it! The Word of God is telling us this. But we’re not all convinced of this.”

Pope Francis then recounted St. Paul’s description of the armor of God, of which the apostle says there are different types.

The apostle also urges the Ephesians to stand firm with the truth as “a belt around your waist,” the Pope observed, saying that the devil is a liar, and that in order to defeat him we always fight with the truth and with faith in God.

Like Saint Paul says, our faith in God is a shield to defend ourselves against Satan, who “doesn’t throw flowers at us (but) burning arrows” intended to kill, the pontiff explained.

“Life is a military endeavor. Christian life is a battle, a beautiful battle, because when God emerges victorious in every step of our life, this gives us joy, a great happiness,” the Pope continued, saying that our joy lies in the fact that it is the Lord who is the victor within us, giving us the free gift of salvation.

However, Pope Francis also cautioned that “we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations.”

This is because each one of us is a sinner, he said, telling those present to not be discouraged, but rather to have courage and take strength in the knowledge that the Lord is with us.

Pope Francis explains helping the poor is far from Communism; it's Catholicism

Pope: Fighting for the poor doesn't make me Communist – it makes me Catholic

   Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square during the Wednesday general audience on June 4, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square during the Wednesday general audience on June 4, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

.- Pope Francis spoke out against oppression of the poor due to greed and warned again of the growing presence of a “globalization of indifference” – a warning, he said, which has wrongly type-casted him.

“It is not possible to tackle poverty by promoting containment strategies to merely reassure, rendering the poor 'domesticated,' harmless and passive,” the Pope told those gathered for his Oct. 28 encounter with leaders of various Church movements.

He called the basic needs for land, housing and work an “aspiration that should be within the reach of all but which we sadly see is increasingly unavailable to the majority.”

“It's strange, but if I talk about this, there are those who think that the Pope is Communist,” he said.

“The fact that the love for the poor is in the center of the gospel is misunderstood,” the Pope added. “Those (values) for which you’re fighting for are sacred rights. It’s the Church’s social doctrine.”

Held in the Vatican's Old Synod Hall, where previous synods took place before the construction of the Paul VI Hall, the meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, along with the leaders of various movements.

Solidarity, the Pope observed in his speech, is a word that is often forgotten in today’s society, and which extends far beyond sporadic acts of generosity.

Instead it requires thinking in communal terms, and includes fighting structural causes of poverty such as inequality, unemployment, lack of land and housing, and the denial of social and labor rights, he said. It also requires facing the destructive effects of the “empire of money” such as forced displacement, painful migration, human trafficking, drugs, war and violence.

“Today the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression assumes a new dimension, a graphical and hard edge of social injustice,” the Pope noted, explaining that this “throwaway culture” makes it so that those who are unable to integrate are marginalized and discarded as “cast-offs.”

Situations such as this arise when economic systems make money their god and put it at the heart of their work rather than centering on the human person, created in the image of God, the pontiff continued.

He then turned his attention to the phenomenon of unemployment, saying that each person who works, whether part of the formal system of paid work or not, “has the right to fair remuneration, social security and a pension.”

These people, the pontiff noted, include those who recycle waste, street vendors, garment makers, craftsmen, fishermen, farmers, builders, miners, workers in companies in receivership, cooperatives and common trades which are often excluded from employment rights and denied the option of forming trades unions, as well as those who don’t receive a stable or sufficient income.

“I wish to unite my voice to theirs and to accompany them in their struggle,” Pope Francis said.

On the theme of peace and ecology, the Pope said that it is not possible to pursue land, housing or work if we can’t maintain the planet, or if we destroy it.

“Creation is not our property which we may exploit as we please, (and) even less so the property of the few,” he explained, saying that instead creation is a gift from God that we must care for and use for the good of all humanity with respect and gratitude.

Pope Francis went on to question those present in the audience, asking why, instead of viewing the world as our gift and fighting for justice, do we instead see work taken away, families evicted, peasants expelled from their land, war and harm done to nature.

“Because this system has removed humanity from the center and replaced it with something else! Because of the idolatrous worship of money! Because of the globalization of indifference – ‘what does it matter to me what happens to others, I'll defend myself,’” the Pope explained.

The world, said the pontiff, has forgotten God and so become “an orphan” because it has turned away from him.

However, Christians have been given a strong guide and “revolutionary program” for how to act, which can be found in the Beatitudes, the Bishop of Rome noted, and encouraged all to read them.

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of walking together, saying that popular movements express urgent need of revitalizing our democracies, which “so often (are) hijacked by many factors.”

“It is impossible to imagine a future for society without the active participation of the majority, and this role extends beyond the logical procedures of formal democracy,” he said.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From A to Z a Saint for everyday of the year

Zenobius & Zenobia


Feastday: October 30
Death: 3rd century

Zenobius and Zenobia (d. late third century) + Martyrs slain during the persecutions of co-Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305). Zenobius was a physician in the town of Aegae, in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Zenobia was his sister. There is a strong possibility that Zenobius may have been a bishop or may be Zenobius of Antioch. Feast day: October 30.

Archdiocese of New Orleans schools trying to adjust to less events on Sundays to comply with Archdiocesan goal of returning Sunday's to faith and family

Catholic high schools adapting to new ban on Sunday events

nola, nns
Mount Carmel Academy students and faculty rededicate the Catholic school's grotto in 2007. The cancelation of the school's annual fall fair illustrates the complexities of a new archdiocese policy prohibiting most, but not all, Sunday events. (Chuck Cook, The Times-Picayune)

When Mount Carmel Academy's president, Sr. Camille Anne Campbell, sent a letter to alumnae this month canceling the Lakeview school's annual fall fair, she was disappointed - and puzzled. The cause, she wrote, was a new policy from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans against high schools scheduling social and athletic events on Sundays.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond himself had turned down her request for an exemption, Campbell said, resulting in a possible $10,000 hit to the school's bottom line. This "has presented problems to me since we are learning that other high schools are having their usual fair," she wrote.
In a Tuesday interview, Campbell would not identify which other schools she meant. However, in eastern New Orleans, St. Mary's Academy is holding its annual Family-Fun-A-Fair this Friday through Sunday, offering midway rides and games.
But Catholic schools Superintendent Jan Lancaster said Campbell simply misunderstood the policy. And the St. Mary's event, Lancaster said, is fine.
The exchange illustrates the complications that the New Orleans area's 22 Catholic high schools are facing as they adapt to a policy aimed at keeping Sundays clear for what Lancaster described as "faith and family." The rule was announced in the archdiocese's May 2013 strategic plan for schools but was overshadowed by a far-reaching mandate in the document that schools adopt a uniform grade-level structure. The Sunday event change took up only two sentences in the overall religious tune-up, which included reminding administrators and faculty that they must be Catholic role models.
Lancaster said the transition is going well. "All of our schools are in compliance," she said Tuesday. "People are sticking with the guidelines."
Making it easier are three exceptions that significantly ease the policy's effect. They were circulated to schools in a brief letter in March and announced again in the fall.
  • Students may attend school-related events that were not scheduled by Catholic schools, such as athletic playoffs, because school administrators can't control the timing. In that case, schools are supposed to ensure students attend Mass.
  • Weekend-long events are allowed.
  • Events primarily for alumni, donors or other adults are OK.
Lancaster said a weekend event might be a Saturday-Sunday religious retreat for students. But it also covers St. Mary's three-day fair, she said. A one-day fair like Mount Carmel's could be moved from Sunday to Saturday, she said, but a longer event could not.
And falling under the first exemption: Sunday Carnival parades. Lancaster said these are events scheduled outside the archdiocese. Presumably, any band marching in Bacchus must meet early to attend Mass.
In drafting and applying the policy, Lancaster said, church officials wanted to be "realistic." When one school's Saturday festival was rained out, the archdiocese allowed it to be held the next afternoon, she said.
Thus, the varsity wrestlers at St. Paul's School in Covington may compete at the Jan. 4 Prep Slam in Atlanta. St. Katharine Drexel Prep in Uptown New Orleans had no problems holding its "Jazzin' for the Drexel Dream" fundraiser Oct. 20.
But Drexel Principal Cheryllyn Branche said the school is moving its traditional mother-daughter luncheon to another day of the week.
Several school leaders said they had never scheduled many events for Sundays anyway. At Mount Carmel, in fact, Campbell said a previous archbishop many years ago requested schools curtail them.
But Lancaster indicated there were enough to warrant the written policy. "It is a change from what people have done before," she said. "Schedules were getting so full."
There is no such policy for elementary schools because almost all are run by a church parish. With the few that aren't, Lancaster said, "we have not had the same concerns."
Facing packed extracurricular and family schedules, "I think all the schools over time just started allowing things to bleed over into Sunday," said John Devlin, president of Brother Martin High School in Gentilly. "I think it's just a question of getting out of that habit." He was pleasantly surprised his school had been able to work around the new strictures without much trouble.
Devlin acknowledged that alumni events such as the Crusader Cook-Off might disrupt Sunday family time, because they often include parents of current students. However, "in that case, the adult makes the decision" about how to spend the day, he said.
He said Lancaster denied his school's request that the football team be allowed to practice on a Sunday during a short week between games. She seemed to be holding the line, he said: "I think she really did not want to break that mold."
At Mount Carmel, Campbell clarified Tuesday she was disappointed, not angry, with the new policy. "I think it's important for us to support the idea of Sunday as family time," she said. But she repeated what she wrote to alumni: "Who knows, though, what the future will bring?"

Halloween: really a Catholic and holy thing kidnapped by the world

It's Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween

by Fr. Steve Grunow . October 27, 2014 . 12 Comments

As we near All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, we fired some questions at the walking encyclopedia that is Father Steve Grunow, and he responded with everything you ever wanted to know about Halloween and its deeply Catholic roots.
QUESTION: I always figured that Halloween had pagan roots, but you are telling me they are Catholic. Huh? How so?
Fr. Steve: The origin and traditional customs associated with Halloween require no other explanation than that they are examples of the kinds of festivity that served as a means of celebrating the various holy days of the Catholic Liturgical Year. This includes everything from masquerades, feasting, and the associations of a given day of the year with supernatural or spiritual truths.
I would draw a distinction between the violent, macabre imagery that characterizes the modern appropriation of Halloween as a kind of secular celebration and the more traditional customs that are characteristic of a Catholic cultural ethos. The descent of Halloween into the madness of an annual fright fest is a relatively recent development, but the true substance of Halloween belongs to the Church. Halloween (or “All Hallows Eve”) is the festive precursor to the celebration of the Church’s public commemoration of All Saints Day.
There has been an appropriation of the festivities of Halloween by modern pagans, but please understand that modern paganism is precisely modern and should be distinguished from the cults of ancient religions. The origins and practices of the modern paganism do not extend farther back than the late nineteenth century. Also, remember, the term “pagan” is a slippery one. What does it mean? The worship of the gods and goddesses from long ago? Those cults have long since passed away with the cultural matrix that once supported the world views that were the conditions for their possibility. You can’t just reinvent those cults without the culture that supported them.
The paganism that exists today is a romantic and very selective attempt at a re-appropriation of an ancient religious ethos, but it isn’t and cannot be the same thing that paganism was in its original cultural expressions. I think that the practitioners need to justify their beliefs by insisting on an association with what they are doing and ancient forms and styles of worship. This gives the impression that the modern pagan élan has more gravitas (especially in relation to Christianity) but it doesn’t make it the same thing as the ancient cults. The association that modern paganism makes between itself and the forms and styles of ancient culture is more about desire than it is about reality.
I think that the association of Halloween with paganism has much more to do with the Protestant Reformation than anything else. The Protestant reformers were concerned about the practices of medieval Christianity that to them seemed contrary to what they believed the Church should be. They knew that these practices had clear precedents in the history of the Church, but insisted that they represented a corruption of the original form of Christianity that had become degraded over time. The degradation was explained as a regression into cultural forms that the Protestants described as pagan.
I realize popular religiosity is a complex phenomenon and the Church in Europe did intentionally assimilate many cultural practices that were more ancient than it’s own practices, but it did so selectively and with a keen sense of discernment. The end result was not simply that a veneer of Christianity was placed on top of an ancient pagan ethos, but that a new cultural matrix was created, one that was Christian to its core. It is a gross mischaracterization and oversimplification to assert that you can just scratch the surface of medieval Christianity and what rises up is paganism.
And yet this perception endures in contemporary culture. You see it, for example, in works of fiction like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, which appropriates ideas from a lot of spurious, pseudo scholarship that permeated British intellectual culture throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Unfortunately, this has become a standard and widely accepted narrative of how Europe became Christian. It is a modern myth born of the prejudices and propaganda of the Protestant reformation that mutated into the secular critique of Catholicism. As an ideological construct it represents the simultaneous fascination and aversion to Medieval culture in general and Catholicism in particular. The reality is far more complex and interesting.
Protestantism was and is proposing what its adherents believe to be an alternative to Catholicism. This means that Protestantism will distinguish itself from the forms and styles of religious life that preceded their own culture and that this culture will be presented as a purified form of Christian faith and practice. One argument that is advanced to justify Protestant distinctiveness is that the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church are pagan.
Placing all this in an American cultural context, the United States set its cultural roots in forms of Protestantism that were keenly aware of the distinction between themselves and a Catholic Europe that they had rejected and whose influence they had hoped to leave behind. Remember, the Puritans left Protestant England for the New World because England wasn’t Protestant enough! The Puritans detested the residual forms of Catholicism that they believed remained in the state church of England.
The arrival of Catholic immigrants to the shores of Protestant America was a source of great cultural consternation. The public festivals of the Catholic Faith were characterized as a corrupting and dangerous form of paganism. Halloween with all its carousing and shenanigans was especially problematic, as it represented the incursion of a specifically Catholic cultural form into a public life that was supposed to be Protestant. Everything associated with these Catholic festivities was caricatured as pagan and the association stuck with even the Catholics internalizing the critique and believing that their own customs were holdovers from paganism.
As a result, the distinctly Catholic nature of Halloween became more and more muted and it was Catholics pulling back from their own festival that gave rise to the contemporary version of Halloween. The goulish version of the festival that we have today is in many respects a result of Catholic accommodation to a Protestant culture. And in a another strange twist in the history of Halloween, most everything that the devout Protestant detests about Halloween have become all the more pronounced as a result of their protests.

Read it all: