Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Many Catholic families have similar situations; great advice from Msgr. Pope


My daughter isn’t living the Faith but receives Communion. What should I do?


Msgr. Charles PopeQuestion: My daughter (divorced) lives with another divorced man part time, and thinks nothing of going to Communion. I am happy that she goes to Mass every Sunday and does daily prayers. A lovely person, I do not want to be the cause of her not going at all. I have spoken to her, not emphatically, that I was concerned with her going to Communion under these circumstances. Evidently, she does not think that it is a mortal sin, which I do. Should I inform the priest, and is it a sin for me not telling him? I don’t feel as if I should be the judge.

— Name withheld, via email

Answer: It is good that you have spoken to your daughter about your concerns, and it is understandable that you do not want to further alienate her from the Church. In matters such as these and in our current cultural malaise and poor catechesis, careful, persistent reminders seem to be a good approach.

There is, however, clear teaching to which we must point and ultimately insist upon — namely, that one should not receive holy Communion who is guilty of grave (mortal) sin. To live with a man outside of marriage involves not only a violation of the Sixth Commandment, but also gives rise to scandal by making light and “normalizing” such practices. Church law, in regard to receiving holy Communion says, “[those persons] obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy Communion” (Canon 915). Further it states, “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible” (Canon 916).

These teachings and laws of the Church are not a mean-spirited rejection; they flow from scriptural teaching, wherein St. Paul warns: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11:27-29).

Hence, the Church teachings are rooted in a concern and care for souls. As Scripture teaches, those who receive the Eucharist unworthily do not receive a blessing, but rather, the judgment of condemnation. If a doctor were to prescribe penicillin to someone he knew was allergic to it, that would be malpractice. In the same way, the Church cannot prescribe or offer the Eucharist to someone not apt to receive it.

The bishops recently spoke to this matter in a document issued in their November meeting. In effect, they have acknowledged that teaching on this matter must be more vigorously done since many have not been adequately catechized.

As for you telling the priest about your daughter’s situation, that is a prudential matter. If you do, it must be on the record — namely, that you permit him to tell her that you are the source of the information. A priest cannot present hearsay from anonymous sources. He must be able to speak to her based on information whose source he can cite. And, before withholding Communion from her, he must make some attempts to discuss the matter with her. Part of your decision will be based on how you think the priest will likely handle the matter. Your primary duty is to speak to your daughter, which you have done. Continue to do so without nagging and use the opportunity of the bishops’ new document to further the discussion and her education.

To be canonized in 2022 he is first Saint of Day for December


Bl. Charles de Faucauld

Venerable Charles de Foucauld Little Brother Charles of Jesus Charles Eugene, (Vicomte de) Foucauld 1858 - 1916 Died Age 58 Charles was left an orphan by the age of six, and he and his sister were brought up by their grandfather. By the time he was fifteen, less than a year after his First Communion, Charles had ceased to be a Christian and was an agnostic. In 1878, his grandfather died. Love for the old man had prevented Charles from indulging in the worst excesses, but at his death, Charles began to "live." On receiving his inheritance, he set about spending it in riotous living.  For a time he lived in Paris, where he took an apartment near a cousin, Marie de Bondy. Marie, who had first entered his life when he was about eleven, was a deeply spiritual young woman. Gradually, through her example, the gay and reckless young man began to change. His religion, when he rediscovered God, was a highly personal discipleship and love of the Person of Jesus Christ. Regarding his conversion, Charles said, "The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone." For a time after his return to the sacraments, Charles lived as a Trappist monk. Although he is remembered as an exemplary religious, the conviction grew that this was not his vocation. After being released from his temporary vows, Charles went to the Holy Land where he became a servant for the Poor Clare nuns.  Mother Elizabeth, the Superior of these Clarist sisters, was a woman of uncommon wisdom. She helped Charles to the realization that he should become a priest in order to serve God better. Charles finished his studies for the priesthood and was ordained in 1901. Later that year, he left for Algeria to take up the life of a hermit in the desert. Little Brother Charles of Jesus, as he called himself, thought up and wrote down a plan for two religious orders. The members of these orders would live a life patterned on the life of Jesus at Nazareth.  At the time of Brother Charles' death, neither his missionary contacts  nor his designs for new religious orders had borne visible fruit.  In 1916, living among the fierce Tuaregs of Tamanrasset, Charles de Foucauld was murdered in an attempt to warn two Arab soldiers of danger from a group of Senussi rebels.  The life of Charles de Foucauld was like the biblical seed which had to die before it sprouted into a healthy plant. Within twenty years after his death, there appeared three congregations which derived their inspiration, purpose, and Rules from Charles de Foucauld. These Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and Little Sisters of Jesus live in small groups all over the world, preaching by the lives they lead. Two other Orders, founded later, trace their heritage to Little Brother Charles of Jesus. Each of these groups bases its apostolate on the ideas of the Orders which the martyr of the desert had planned, but did not live to see. Knowledge of the life of Charles de Foucauld has spread throughout the Church. After preliminary investigations, all proved positive, and he was declared Venerable on April 13, 1978.

Praying with the Pope's December prayer intentions


The Pope's Monthly Intentions for 2021


Let us pray for the catechists, summoned to announce the Word of God: may they be its witnesses, with courage and creativity and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church founded by Christ is indeed Catholic (universal) as new Cathedral will be dedicated in Bahrain


Late Bishop Camillo Ballin, former Apostolic Vicar of Northern ArabiaLate Bishop Camillo Ballin, former Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia 

Bahrain inaugurates Cathedral of Mary Queen of Arabia

The Church dedicated to Mary Queen of Arabia will be consecrated on 10 December by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelizations of Peoples. It will be officially inaugurated by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on the previous day.

 By Lisa Zengarini

The small Catholic community of the Emirate of Bahrain is preparing to celebrate the solemn opening of the largest Catholic Church in the Arabic Peninsula dedicated to their Patron Saint.

The Cathedral of Mary Queen of Arabia will be inaugurated on December 9 - significantly, one day after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception -   by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. It will be subsequently consecrated on December 10 by Cardinal Louis Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelizations of Peoples.  The consecration will be attended only by a small group of faithful, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Land donated by King Hamad

The cathedral, seating 2,300 people, is located in Awali, a small town in the centre of Bahrain. The project dates back to February 2013 when King Hamad donated a 9,000 square-meter piece of land to the local Catholic community so it could build a church. The project was enthusiastically supported the then Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, late Bishop Camillo Ballin, MCCI.

The new church is the second cathedral built in the Apostolic Vicariate (which includes Bahrain, Kuwait and, formally, Saudi Arabia) after the Holy Family in the Desert Cathedral in Madinat al-Kuwait.

The building

The Cathedral compound will not only become a reference place of worship for the Catholic community in the region, but also its episcopal curia. 

It will host a reception house and a formation center to support local Christian the locals. A virtual description of the building can be found on the website.  One of its main features is a polychrome statue of Our Lady of Arabia placed inside.

80,000 Catholics in Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the few Muslim countries in the Arabic Peninsula to have a local Christian population, notably Roman Catholic, since 1930.

Christians presently make up 10% of its inhabitants, and include some 80,000 Catholics, mainly migrant workers from Asia, for the most part from India and the Philippines. Among them there are also many expats from Western countries.

Interreligious dialogue

Although Islam is the official religion of the country and the Shariah (Islamic Law) is applied, Christian and other religious groups enjoy freedom of worship, as opposed to neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Also, the Kingdom of Bahrain who entertains diplomatic relations with the Holy See, has shown openness to interreligious dialogue.

King Hamad has endorsed the  the historic Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4 February 2019. He recently invited Pope Francis to visit the country.

Ahead of Papal trip to Cyprus


Faithful members sing during a liturgy at the Church of St. George in Kormakitis, Cyprus.Faithful members sing during a liturgy at the Church of St. George in Kormakitis, Cyprus. 

Cyprus Church awaits the Pope with joy, love and synodality

Ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Cyprus and Greece, 2-6 December, Cypriot priest Father Ibrahim Khita of Limassol spoke to Vatican News about how they are preparing for the papal visit.

By Robin Gomes

“We hope that we will have new life, a good life full of peace and full of love.”  Cypriot Maronite priest Father Ibrahim Khita made the comment, expressing what all the people of Cyprus expect from the visit of Pope Francis to them, December 2 to 4. 

From Cyprus, the Holy Father will proceed to Greece before flying back to Rome on December 6, in what is the 35th foreign apostolic visit of his pontificate. 

Father Khita, who is parish priest of St. Charbel Church in Limassol, some 88 kilometres southwest of the capital Nicosia, told Christine Seuss that they started the preparations 3 weeks after the announcement of the papal visit. 

Pope is coming for everyone

They have set up 3 committees with the Apostolic Nuncio and his charge d’affaires is heading the Coordination Committee that oversees the entire preparation.

Father Khita heads the Liturgical Committee, which is in charge of the Pope’s Mass at GSP Stadium in Nicosia on 3 December. The Media Committee, he said, is working hard and doing a good job. 

For the past week, all the committees have been working “day and night” to complete the preparations “with joy and love” in the spirit of synodality. 

Father Khita said they are trying to live this synodality together, not as separated Churches because Jesus is one and all are united in Him.  In this regard, the priest pointed out that Pope Francis in his video message on Sunday to the people of Cyprus said that he was coming “not just to see the Catholics but to see the Catholics, the Orthodox, the migrants” and everyone.

As they are approaching the day of his arrival, they “need to be one in Jesus Christ”.  The message of the Holy Father is for every Christian and human being to live a life of love and peace among the people.  Cypriots hope that they will have a new and good life full of peace and love.

The Pope’s 5-day visit to the two Mediterranean countries includes stops in Nicosia, in Cyprus, the Greek capital, Athens and the Greek island of Lesbos, where he will visit refugees and migrants, as he did in 2016.

In the footsteps of the apostles

This will be the second visit by a Pope to Cyprus after that of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

The logo of the Cyprus visit represents the map of the island, with Pope Francis and Saint Barnabas, the patron saint of the island and companion of Saint Paul, in the foreground. An olive branch and an ear of wheat tied together symbolize peace and fellowship. The theme of the trip is “Comforting each other in the faith” (1Th 5, 11), which recalls the meaning of the name of Saint Barnabas, “son of consolation” (cf. Act 4,36).

Eighty percent of Cyprus’ 850,000 people are Christians, with Catholics numbering some 38,000, or about 4.47% of the population. Muslims make up 2%. The vast majority of Cypriots identify as Greek Orthodox. Many of the Christians trace their roots back Crusaders who settled there after the fall of Jerusalem in the 12th century.

St. Paul stopped off in Cyprus in the first century AD and converted the island’s Roman governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity.

Pope’s programme

Pope Francis begins the some 42-hour visit to Cyprus on Thursday. He will land at Larnaca airport at 3:30 pm, where he will be given an official welcome. He will later meet priests, consecrated persons, deacons, catechists, and members of Church associations at Nicosia’s Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace. At 5:15 pm he will be welcomed by the Cypriot President at his palace in the capital, where he will later address local authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps.

On Friday morning, the Pope will make a courtesy visit to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus at the Orthodox Archbishopric of Cyprus in Nicosia, followed by a meeting with the Holy Synod at the Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia. Later in the morning, he will preside over a Mass at the “GSP Stadium” in Nicosia. In the afternoon he will hold an Ecumenical Prayer with Migrants at the Parish Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia.

On Saturday, the Pope leaves for Athens, Greece, the second leg of this apostolic journey.

Catholic - Orthodox Spiritual closeness on this Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle


Pope Francis and Bartholomew I, Patriarch of ConstantinoplePope Francis and Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople  (Vatican Media)

Pope to Bartholomew: Working together makes our communion visible

Pope Francis expresses his spiritual closeness to Patriarch Bartholomew in a letter for the feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, celebrated on 30 November, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, led a Holy See delegation to Istanbul for the occasion.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, led the delegation of the Holy See to Istanbul for the feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, celebrated on 30 November, the liturgical feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

The Cardinal was accompanied by Bishops Brian Farrell and Andrea Palmieri, Secretary and Undersecretary of the Dicastery. In Istanbul, the delegation was joined by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d’affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Turkey.

A Tuesday statement from the Holy See Press Office said that the delegation took part in the solemn Divine Liturgy presided over by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George at Phanar.

Cardinal Koch also presented the Ecumenical Patriarch an autographed message from Pope Francis, which he publicly read at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.

The Pope's message 

In the message, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Ecumenical Patriarch on the occasion of the feast of Apostle Andrew, the "first-called and brother of the Apostle Peter, and patron saint of the Church of Constantinople and the Ecumenical Patriarchate."

The Holy Father also highlighted the fraternal friendship and the "ancient and profound bond of faith and charity between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople" and assured them of his spiritual closeness through the delegation he sent to convey his "good wishes for joy and peace" to the bishops, clergy, monks and lay faithful gathered for the Divine Liturgy.

Working together despite differences

Pope Francis recalled that during Patriarch Bartholomew's recent visit to Rome, they were able to share their concerns regarding the present and future of our world and to express their shared commitment to addressing issues of crucial significance to the human family, including the care of creation, the education of future generations, interreligious dialogue and the pursuit of peace.

In this way, the Pope noted, "we as Pastors, together with our Churches, strengthen the profound bond that already unites us, since our common responsibility in the face of current challenges flows from our shared faith in God" who "harmonizes differences without abolishing them".

He urged that united in this faith, we should "seek with determination to make visible our communion" in spite of theological and ecclesiological questions that may remain, and encouraged Catholics and Orthodox to increasingly work together "in those areas in which it is not only possible, but indeed imperative that we do so."

Full unity, a gift from God

The Pope noted that while we continue along the path towards full communion between the Churches, "we are sustained by the intercession of the holy brothers Peter and Andrew, our Patron saints".

He said that "the full unity for which we yearn is, of course, a gift of God, through the grace of the Holy Spirit," and prayed that Our Lord may help us to be ready through prayer, interior conversion and openness to seeking and offering pardon.

Concluding his message, the Pope reiterated his heartfelt sentiments and good wishes for the feast of Saint Andrew.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Don't miss Advent because the world doesn't celebrate Advent


Editorial: Don’t miss out on Advent this year

(CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St Louis Review)

Anyone who has ever had, or spent any time with, children knows that the act of waiting isn’t a strong suit for that demographic. From the road trip cliché “Are we there yet?” to the many manifestations of toddler impatience, waiting for something to happen can lead to downright despair for our little ones.

It’s not just children who struggle with waiting, of course. Our instant-gratification culture, compounded by the supercomputers ever at our fingertips, has turned the concept of waiting into something foreign and unpalatable for most adults, too.

Yet here we are again at Advent, a season that is defined by marking time, by counting the days until the Church celebrates the coming of Our Lord. It mirrors, in miniature, the waiting that each of us is doing for the return of Jesus Christ at the end of time — a waiting to which we often don’t pay nearly enough heed. This annual emphasis on waiting is a great gift of the Church, when we remember to actually take advantage of it.

It may be helpful to consider what can get in the way of this “active waiting.” A good place to start is by examining the things we gravitate toward when we have a few minutes of “downtime.” Do we pick up the phone and scroll through social media? Do we flip on the TV? Do we gossip with (or about) a friend? Do we make the most of those moments that are ripe for intentional and active waiting? Or do we let them just pass us by in a flurry of distraction?

An overcrowded Advent schedule, or one that begins the Christmas celebration in early December, can also get in the way of the expectation that should dominate the season. With the arrival of COVID last year, many of us embraced a scaled-back holiday calendar and found it to be a welcome change from the typical overdrive of the season. We should not forget the lessons learned from that time.

Thankfully, the Church’s traditions provide us with plenty to help us embrace the waiting that is part and parcel of Advent. The Church is rich in those things that help us slow down and reflect on the passage of time during Advent, starting with the basics: an Advent wreath in one’s home. This traditional and simple-to-set-up item is a visual and striking reminder of the passage of time during the season of preparation and anticipation. When lit intentionally during dinner each evening, it’s a way for the whole family to reflect upon where the Church is in the Advent journey and to savor each passing week.

A spiritually oriented Advent calendar (not that we don’t enjoy the occasional “cheese or chocolate of the day” indulgence) can also help slow the pace of the season, offering an opportunity for daily reflection on Scripture or a piece of the Christmas narrative. Opening the calendar each day offers a natural moment to pause during what can be a busy and exciting season.

Remembering the course of salvation history through the use of a Jesse tree can be both entertaining and educational. As each ornament is hung, the family can reflect upon a moment that led to the Incarnation — to that moment when God humbled himself and became one of us in order to save us.

There are other, simple things one can do to embrace active waiting. Bake cookies, yes, but save the eating until Christmas. Put out your Nativity scene, yes, but don’t place Baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Instead of hosting a party during Advent, consider holding one on Epiphany.

As Father Joel Sember writes in “Oriens,” his prayer guide through the Advent and Christmas seasons (OSV, $18.95): “We all struggle with Advent. The Church is telling us to slow down, but the world is telling us, ‘Hurry up.’ We rush around preparing for the birth of Jesus. We look forward to the big ‘Aha’ moment waiting for us at Christmas. And we always seem to miss out somehow.”

Let’s not miss out on Advent this year. It doesn’t take much effort to reclaim these weeks as a season of anticipation. It simply takes a little planning and a lot of intentionality. Christmas is worth the wait.