Saturday, January 16, 2021

USCCB statement for Dr. MLK Jr. Day; Archbishop Jose Gomez


Statement for Observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Statement for Observance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Most Reverend José H. Gomez

Archbishop of Los Angeles

President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

For much of the past year, America has been reckoning with the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racial injustice in our country. Sadly, it is still true that the “color of our skin” often matters more in our society than the “content of our character,” as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said a half-century ago.

This year as we commemorate the legacy of this great American, we remember especially Rev. King’s belief in nonviolence and the power of love.

As we witnessed in the violence in our cities last summer and in the violence that broke out again last week at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., our country has become too angry, too bitter, and too divided.

And as we confront our deep divisions, we face the same choices that Rev. King and the civil rights movement faced. For us, too, the question is how will we struggle against the injustices in our society, what means will we use?

In 1958, Rev. King wrote: “Along the way of life, someone must have the sense enough and the morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.” This is the challenge for every one of us who believes in the promise of America and seeks to renew the soul of this great nation.  

In the spirit of Rev. King, we must meet the forces of hate and ignorance with the power of love. We must learn again the wisdom of the Gospel and love our enemies and bless those who oppose us. In this moment, Rev. King would counsel everyone in public life to seek reconciliation and reject the easy temptation to reprisals and recrimination.

We do not love those who oppose us because they are loveable, or even likable, Rev. King once said. We love them because God loves them. And by our love, we seek their conversion and friendship, not their humiliation. This is our Christian duty in this moment — to be healers and peacemakers, to overcome evil and lies, not by more of the same, but with words of truth and works of love.

We ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to guide us in this moment of transition and uncertainty in our country. May she help us to keep believing in the power of love.

Sunday Saint of the Day


St. Anthony the Abbot

Two Greek philosophers ventured out into the Egyptian desert to the mountain where Anthony lived. When they got there, Anthony asked them why they had come to talk to such a foolish man? He had reason to say that -- they saw before them a man who wore a skin, who refused to bathe, who lived on bread and water. They were Greek, the world's most admired civilization, and Anthony was Egyptian, a member of a conquered nation. They were philosophers, educated in languages and rhetoric. Anthony had not even attended school as a boy and he needed an interpreter to speak to them. In their eyes, he would have seemed very foolish.

But the Greek philosophers had heard the stories of Anthony. They had heard how disciples came from all over to learn from him, how his intercession had brought about miraculous healings, how his words comforted the suffering. They assured him that they had come to him because he was a wise man.

Anthony guessed what they wanted. They lived by words and arguments. They wanted to hear his words and his arguments on the truth of Christianity and the value of ascetism. But he refused to play their game. He told them that if they truly thought him wise, "If you think me wise, become what I am, for we ought to imitate the good. Had I gone to you, I should have imitated you, but, since you have come to me, become what I am, for I am a Christian."

Anthony's whole life was not one of observing, but of becoming. When his parents died when he was eighteen or twenty he inherited their three hundred acres of land and the responsibility for a young sister. One day in church, he heard read Matthew 19:21: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Not content to sit still and meditate and reflect on Jesus' words he walked out the door of the church right away and gave away all his property except what he and his sister needed to live on. On hearing Matthew 6:34, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today," he gave away everything else, entrusted his sister to a convent, and went outside the village to live a life of praying, fasting, and manual labor. It wasn't enough to listen to words, he had to become what Jesus said

Every time he heard of a holy person he would travel to see that person. But he wasn't looking for words of wisdom, he was looking to become. So if he admired a person's constancy in prayer or courtesy or patience, he would imitate it. Then he would return home.

Anthony went on to tell the Greek philosophers that their arguments would never be as strong as faith. He pointed out that all rhetoric, all arguments, no matter how complex, how well-founded, were created by human beings. But faith was created by God. If they wanted to follow the greatest ideal, they should follow their faith.

Anthony knew how difficult this was. Throughout his life he argued and literally wrestled with the devil. His first temptations to leave his ascetic life were arguments we would find hard to resist -- anxiety about his sister, longings for his relatives, thoughts of how he could have used his property for good purposes, desire for power and money. When Anthony was able to resist him, the devil then tried flattery, telling Anthony how powerful Anthony was to beat him. Anthony relied on Jesus' name to rid himself of the devil. It wasn't the last time, though. One time, his bout with the devil left him so beaten, his friends thought he was dead and carried him to church. Anthony had a hard time accepting this. After one particular difficult struggle, he saw a light appearing in the tomb he lived in. Knowing it was God, Anthony called out, "Where were you when I needed you?" God answered, "I was here. I was watching your struggle. Because you didn't give in, I will stay with you and protect you forever."

With that kind of assurance and approval from God, many people would have settled in, content with where they were. But Anthony's reaction was to get up and look for the next challenge -- moving out into the desert.

Anthony always told those who came to visit him that the key to the ascetic life was perseverance, not to think proudly, "We've lived an ascetic life for a long time" but treat each day as if it were the beginning. To many, perseverance is simply not giving up, hanging in there. But to Anthony perseverance meant waking up each day with the same zeal as the first day. It wasn't enough that he had given up all his property one day. What was he going to do the next day?

Once he had survived close to town, he moved into the tombs a little farther away. After that he moved out into the desert. No one had braved the desert before. He lived sealed in a room for twenty years, while his friends provided bread. People came to talk to him, to be healed by him, but he refused to come out. Finally they broke the door down. Anthony emerged, not angry, but calm. Some who spoke to him were healed physically, many were comforted by his words, and others stayed to learn from him. Those who stayed formed what we think of as the first monastic community, though it is not what we would think of religious life today. All the monks lived separately, coming together only for worship and to hear Anthony speak.

But after awhile, too many people were coming to seek Anthony out. He became afraid that he would get too proud or that people would worship him instead of God. So he took off in the middle of the night, thinking to go to a different part of Egypt where he was unknown. Then he heard a voice telling him that the only way to be alone was to go into the desert. He found some Saracens who took him deep into the desert to a mountain oasis. They fed him until his friends found him again.

Anthony died when he was one hundred and five years old. A life of solitude, fasting, and manual labor in the service of God had left him a healthy, vigorous man until very late in life. And he never stopped challenging himself to go one step beyond in his faith.

Saint Athanasius, who knew Anthony and wrote his biography, said, "Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God." We may wonder nowadays at what we can learn from someone who lived in the desert, wore skins, ate bread, and slept on the ground. We may wonder how we can become him. We can become Anthony by living his life of radical faith and complete commitment to God.

Quick note from the Abitadeacon!

 Here I am in beautiful, although, very cold North Carolina.  Due to circumstances that have been helpful this recently unemployed and now employed, thankfully but not at income levels recently enjoyed, has been able, along with Wendy, to finally achieve our "Christmas" visit with our NC family.  In about one hour from writing this we will be visiting our first two grandchildren, Calvin, now 8+, and Katelyn, incredibly 5, or as she will readily tell you, 5 and a half!

So please forgive me if blogging ebbs and flows a bit; from today thru Tuesday evening, my focus will be those two and their parents too.  As I say all the time; they are my NC family!

And good news: the kids have both Monday and Tuesday off so it will be all day long fun for Pops and Nona.

While I'm here, I will be praying for all my family, our safe travels, the nation, especially in the coming days and my home parish family of St. Jane de Chantal in Abita Springs/St. Michael's in Bush.

Hey, your prayers are always very welcomed!

Archbishop Aymond with a very, very important message

 Wise and important words from Archbishop Aymond; we all need to read and heed these word!

When Jesus was born in the darkness of the night, the angel said to the shepherd keeping watch over their flocks: "Peace on earth to people of goodwill."
We need to hear that Christmas echo again because we certainly do not have peace in our world or in the United States. Sometimes, neither do we have peace in our hearts or in our families. And, sometimes, we also face division within the church.
The angel said: “Peace to people of goodwill.” Where there is a lack of peace, we have to ask within our own hearts and within the hearts of others whether or not we are acting out of goodwill.
To be more specific, there are wars and rumors of war around the world. In our own country, there is a lack of respect. Unfiltered thoughts slice hearts, and we have experienced so much of that for many years.
It has become commonplace that people can say whatever they want without considering the effect their words have on others. More than one person has said to me, “I have the right to free speech, and I can say whatever I choose.”
I beg to differ. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions, but we must not express those opinions in a way that deliberately offends someone or treats them in a less than humane way. We must respect one another and attempt to dialogue in a civil manner, particularly when we are in disagreement.
But it’s not just words that have been hurtful to others; it’s also actions.
Peaceful protests have a constitutionally protected place in our society and afford people the opportunity to use words and actions to make a point. Violent protests, however, cannot be justified.
We saw this in the summer as violent protests went on and on to decry social injustice and racism. Most recently in Washington, D.C., we saw protests by people who have a right to protest. But those protests became violent and did not respect the rights of others. They took the lives of five people.
It doesn’t make any difference what political side you are on. Violence and the taking of the life of another person is sinful.
It is evident to me that there is underlying anger that exists in our society. Pointing the finger at others reminds us that when we do so, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves. As long as this continues, we will not have the peace to be people of goodwill.
So what are the responsibilities of Catholic Christians in the midst of all of this? Jesus was clear in his mandate that we must be reconcilers. In his Sermon on the Mount, he told the crowd gathered on the seashore: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
Isn't it ironic that in our society today, when people strive to come together in reconciliation and promote peace, they are criticized for doing so? This is the work of evil. When people view the desire to respect others and seek genuine reconciliation as an affront, that cannot be the work of God.
May I suggest that we pray and fast for peace. Some things can be accomplished only through prayer and fasting, and, certainly, peace in our hearts, in our country and in our world, is worth praying and fasting for.
Let us pray for our nation and for all of our newly elected leaders and members of Congress that their hearts will be open to leading us to the peace that God alone dreams of for his people.

Pope expresses solidarity and consolation to people of Indonesia


Rescuers evacuate a survivor in Mamuju, West SulawesiRescuers evacuate a survivor in Mamuju, West Sulawesi  (ANSA)

Pope prays for quake-struck Indonesians

Pope Francis expresses his closeness and assures his prayers to all those affected by an earthquake in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where search and rescue operations are underway.

By Vatican News staff writer

Pope Francis said he is saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and of the destruction caused by the violent earthquake that has struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

In a telegram sent on his behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope expressed his “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this natural disaster and said he is praying for the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all who grieve.”


The 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday. Scores of people have been killed and injured. Authorities are reportedly still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas. There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

The Pope went on to assure the apostolic nuncio in Indonesia and local authorities of his prayers and encouragement to all those involved in the continuing search and rescue efforts.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Saint for Saturday


St. Henry of Cocket

  A Danish hermit who had a hermitage on Cocket, an island off the coast of Northumbria, England. He lived under the director of the monks of Tynemouth.

Henry of Coquet (died 1127) was a Dane who lived in a hermitage on the island of Coquet, off the Northumberland coast.


A Dane of noble birth, Henry is said to have been directed by a vision to make good his escape from a marriage his parents were endeavouring to force upon him, and to serve God all his days as a hermit on Coquet. He landed at Tynemouth, and obtained the prior's consent to build a small cell on the island.[1]

He died there in 1127. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. There is a stained glass window in the church of St Thomas of Canterbury in Deal, Kent, England, showing an image of 'St Henry the Dane'. He is wearing a horned helmet.[2]

Upcoming: week of prayer for Christian unity


Pope Francis and other religious leaders during an Ecumenical Prayer for Peace event in BariPope Francis and other religious leaders during an Ecumenical Prayer for Peace event in Bari  (AFP or licensors)

Christians invited to join virtually in prayer for 54th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated from 18 to 25 January. During this period, Christians are invited to pray for reconciliation and unity within the Church.

By Vatican News staff writer

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed annually from 18 – 25 January. However, in the southern hemisphere, where January is a vacation time, churches find another time during the year to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost which is also a symbolic time for the unity of the Church.

With over 100 years of history, this octave of prayer is a period set aside for Christians around the world to jointly pray for visible Christian unity and move closer towards the fulfillment of Jesus’ Last Supper prayer “that they all may be one.”

The theme for this year 2021, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit,” is inspired by John 15: 5-9. It was chosen to express the Christian community’s vocation to pray and work for reconciliation and unity within the Church, our human family and all of creation.

Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over Vespers with other Christian leaders to mark the closing of this 54th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Monday, 25 January. As always, that ceremony will take place in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls, the papal basilica that is traditionally dedicated to ecumenical events and liturgies. 

International resources for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland, a group of religious sisters from different church traditions brought together by a common commitment to prayer and Christian unity.

Further information and preparatory material for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be accessed on the website of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Christians invited to pray together

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting all Christians to join online in prayer on 25 January, the last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

In a letter, the acting Secretary-General of the WCC, Rev. Loan Sauca noted: “As restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic make it difficult to physically gather in many places, this global online celebration will allow us to pray together wherever we are.”

The online prayer event will hold at 2 pm CET. Interested participants can follow the event on the website of the World Council of Churches.U

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Friday Saint of the Day


St. Francis Ferdinand de Capillas

Feastday: January 15
Birth: 1607
Death: 1648
Beatified: 2 May 1909 by Pope Saint Pius X
Canonized: 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II

Francis Ferdinand de Capillas(true name in Spanish: Francisco Fernández de Capillas) O.P. (1607-1648) was a Castilian Christian missionary to China. He was the first Roman Catholic martyr killed in China. He was beatified by Pope Pius X in 1909, and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000 as the protomartyr of the 134 Martyrs of China.

Cardinal Dolan on abortion in light of a Biden administration; interesting read


Cardinal Dolan: Catholics More ‘Hung Up’ on Abortion as Joe Biden Administration Looms

The Archbishop of New York explained in a Jan. 13 column at Catholic New York that “actually, we’re obsessed with the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life!"

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City (Left) celebrated Mass with his brother bishops from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Region II, inside the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls during their ad Limina Apostolorum visit on Nov. 12, 2019.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City (Left) celebrated Mass with his brother bishops from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Region II, inside the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls during their ad Limina Apostolorum visit on Nov. 12, 2019. (photo: Daniel Ibanez / CNA/EWTN News)

MANHATTAN — Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has explained why Catholics are not ashamed of being 'hung up’ on abortion, especially in the context of the upcoming Biden administration, in a Wednesday column.

Recalling a conversation with a politician who asked him, “why are you Catholics so hung up about abortion,” the Archbishop of New York explained in a Jan. 13 column at Catholic New York that “actually, we’re obsessed with the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life! Yes, the innocent, helpless life of the baby in the womb, but also the life of the death row prisoner, the immigrant, the fragile elderly, the poor and the sick.”

“As a matter of fact,” Cardinal Dolan says, "this is not a uniquely ‘Catholic’ issue at all, but one of human rights. We didn’t learn that abortion was horrible in religion class, but in biology, and in our courses on the ‘inalienable rights’ tradition in American history.”

“How can we sustain a culture that recoils at violence, exclusion, suicide, racism, injustice, and callousness toward those in need, if we applaud, allow, pay for, and promote the destruction of the most helpless, the baby in the womb?”

Cardinal Dolan also writes that “pro-abortionists reassured us forty-eight years ago” that abortion would be kept safe, legal, and rare. “So much for the reassurances! We have hardly gotten used to it. Abortion remains the hottest issue in our politics, with polls showing that most Americans want restrictions on its unquestioned use, and do not want their taxes to pay for it.”

“We’re even more ‘hung up’ now, as our new president, whom we wish well, and who speaks with admirable sensitivity about protecting the rights of the weakest and most threatened, ran on a platform avidly supporting this gruesome capital punishment for innocent pre-born babies.”

“We’re all still cringing from the disturbing violence last week in Washington. This upheaval was made the more nauseating as it was seemingly encouraged by the one sworn to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, and because it trashed the very edifice designed to be a sanctuary of safety, reason, civility, and decorum,” the Cardinal added.

He finally praised President-elect Joe Biden for “reminding us that the rampage we saw was not America,” and concluded by asking if we can hope “that violence will subside,” and that “the sacredness of all life and the dignity of the human person will be revived, and that the sanctuary of the womb will be off-limits to violent invasion."