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Pope Francis: Make space for wonder this Christmas

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2018 / 04:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Make space for wonder and surprise this Christmas, Pope Francis urged Wednesday, explaining that the first Christmas had many surprises – including that God came into the world as a tiny baby.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was surprised by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and Joseph was surprised by the angel in his dream, which told him to take Mary as his wife, the pope said Dec. 19.

To welcome the Savior there are no powerful people, no ambassadors, just simple shepherds, surprised by the angels while working at night.

“But it is on the night of Christmas that the biggest surprise comes: The Most High is a small child,” he said. “To celebrate Christmas, then, is to welcome the surprises of Heaven on earth.”

Speaking at his weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the surprising elements of Christ’s birth, and the way each Catholic can replicate the feelings at the first Christmas in his or her heart by making room for silence.

“Christmas is preferring the silent voice of God to the noisiness of consumerism. If we can be silent in front of the crib, Christmas will be a surprise even for us, not something seen before,” he said.

“Be silent in front of the nativity,” he advised. “This is an invitation for Christmas, take some time. Go before the nativity and stay in silence.”

Francis noted that since the beginning of Advent, the Gospel warned against becoming weighed down by the “anxieties of daily life.” “These days we rush, maybe as we never have during the year. But this is the opposite of what Jesus wants,” he said.

We blame the fast-pace of the world, but Jesus did not blame the world; Jesus asked his followers to keep watch and pray.

It is easy to get wrapped up in consumerism and in parties this time of year, preferring “the usual things of the earth over the news of Heaven,” he warned. “If Christmas is just a nice traditional holiday, where we are at the center and not Him, it will be a lost opportunity.”

We will celebrate Christmas well, “if, like Joseph, we will give space to silence; if, like Mary, we say ‘here I am’ to God; if, like Jesus, we will be close to those who are alone; if, like the shepherds, we will leave our enclosures to be with Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

“It will be Christmas, if we find the light in the poor cave of Bethlehem.”

On the other hand, he stated, it will not be Christmas if people look only for the “shimmering glow of the world,” filling themselves with presents and fancy meals, but do not help “at least one poor man.”

“Christmas is the payback of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over hubbub, of prayer over ‘my time,’ of God over my ego,” he said.

“Every one of us has, hidden in our heart, the capacity to be surprised. May we be surprised by Jesus this Christmas.”

Blessed Pope Urban V

Blessed Pope Urban V was born Guillaume de Grimoard at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310. He studied canon law and theology in Avignon and became a Benedictine monk. He was named abbot of his monastery in 1352, and served as a papal diplomat and was eventually sent as an ambassodor to various locations. He also served as a bishop around Italy and throughout Europe. He was elected pope in 1362 while on diplomatic business, even though he was not a cardinal. His reign was blessed by his peacekeeping activity between the French and Italian kings, the founding of many universities, his zeal for the crusades and his decision to return the papacy to Rome and end the Avignon exile of the popes. However, the breakout of war between England and France forced him to return to Avignon on a peacekeeping mission He died on his return to Avignon, and his body, which had been buried at Avignon, was then transferred to Marseille according to his own wishes, and his tomb became the site of many miracles. He died on December 19, 1370. He always had a Benedictine spirit, and even wore his monk’s habit as Pope. His virtue and honesty were noted, especially in a Europe plagued by scandal and corruption. It is said that as he lay dying he called the people to surround his deathbed, saying “the people must see how popes die.�

How one organization helps the Church welcome Catholics with disabilities

Washington D.C., Dec 18, 2018 / 05:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Around 14 million Catholics in the U.S. are living with a disability.

Since 1982, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) has been working to make sure those Catholics are welcomed as members of the Church and have opportunities to participate in the faith.

“The goal of NCPD is to ensure that people with any disability…can actively and meaningfully participate in the faith by using their gifts and interests,” said Janice Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.

“By virtue of baptism, everyone belongs to the body of Christ, and our work is to make sure that we are doing that with the proper attitude and spirit to make sure everyone can feel at home in their parishes,” she told CNA.

The organization works in in a variety of ways to “affirm the dignity of every person,” Benton said.

For example, they support people with Down syndrome by supporting campaigns that fight against discriminatory legislation, such as disability-selective abortions, while also working with individuals with Down syndrome as they prepare for sacraments and take an active part in the their faith.

“We remind church communities that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities are agents of evangelization and people gifted in their own right,” Benton said.

Founded in light of the 1978 document, “Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops of People with Disabilities,” the group has been promoting the pastoral guidelines for individuals with disabilities, particularly through access to the sacraments and Church life.

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability is a collaborative organization made up of various councils to serve people who live with physical, intellectual, sensory, mental or emotional disabilities. They also partner with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Kurtz serves as their episcopal moderator.

“We work very closely with the bishops and the offices at the USCCB,” Benton said, noting that the bishops currently do not have a disabilities office, so the NCPD plays a huge role in this area.

One of the organization’s primary tasks is working closely with publishers to provide resources for catechists and leaders who are working directly in faith formation, but they also are involved in a number of different councils and speaking engagements around the nation.

The ministry provides catechesis, resources, spirituality and awareness building tools, trainings, conferences, and ministry models to dioceses throughout the country, and additionally offers online tools such as YouTube training videos.

“We are really set up to support the people in the dioceses, and even directly in parishes, to provide the support, resources, and training that the church might need,” Benton said.

She noted that the NCPD played a major role in the revision to the “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments,” which now aids priests, catechists and Church leaders in preparing the proper reception of the sacraments for individuals with disabilities.

While primarily ministering in the U.S., the disability resource group also works internationally with the Vatican and other groups. Esther Garcia, the outreach director for organization, said that she works with minorities, such as Asian, African, and Hispanic groups within the Church.

“The NCPD is working to ensure we are meeting the needs of families with disabilities in the Hispanic community,” Garcia said.

“We are all children of God…and it is our responsibility as a Church to provide resources and ways to ensure that [those with disabilities] have ways to receive the sacraments,” Garcia continued.

Moving forward, Benton told CNA that they are currently working on an app for sacramental preparation and Mass attendance for people with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

“We are always trying to develop resources that can easily be made available.”

 

This article was originally published on CNA March 21, 2018.

Daily Prayer: Lord God, your miracles come readily

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent Lord God, your miracles come readily to those in need of them. The infertile became fertile at your desire, so that the world might be prepared through John the Baptist for the arrival of your son, Jesus Christ. Miracles shall abound through the works of your son, as […]

The post Daily Prayer: Lord God, your miracles come readily appeared first on Catholic Digest.

St. Augustine-This is the business of our life

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent This is the business of our life: by labor and prayer to advance in the grace of God, till we come to that height of perfection in which, with clean hearts, we may behold God. — St. Augustine

The post St. Augustine-This is the business of our life appeared first on Catholic Digest.

Salt Lake City diocese releases list of priests credibly accused of abuse

Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec 18, 2018 / 02:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following suit with many other Catholic dioceses throughout the United States in recent months, the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah has released a list of all priests credibly accused of sexual abuse involving minors since 1950.

Of the 19 men on the list, 17 were priests at the time the alleged abuses occurred. Of the two remaining, one was a seminarian at the time of alleged abuse, and the other a religious brother.

“The list of credible allegations is one step toward providing the transparency that will help repair at least some of the wounds left by the wrongful actions of priests who have abused their sacred trust,” Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake said in a statement reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.

“We continue to pray for the victims and their families and ask their forgiveness for our failure to protect them,” he added. The Diocese of Salt Lake City covers the entire state of Utah, and is home to more than 300,000 Catholics.

According to KSL News, the diocese said that it considered credible those allegations for which there was “sufficient evidence” to verify that the abuse may have occurred “such as the accused and the accuser being in the same area around the time the conduct is alleged to have happened.”

The diocese told KSL that a credible allegation is not the same as a guilty verdict, but does call for further investigation.

One priest on the list, Father David R. Gaeta, faced three accusations this year - two from the 1980s, and one from 2018.

In June of this year, Gaeta was accused of lying in bed with a minor in 1982.

In August of this year, a separate accusation was filed with the diocese against Gaeta, accusing him of offering alcohol to four minors and suggesting that they undress, also in 1982. In July of this year, Gaeta was accused of touching a child’s buttocks while pushing a swing. The case was civilly investigated, but no criminal charges were filed.

Gaeta has been placed on leave since August, and this week the diocese announced that Gaeta will retire “without faculties” on Jan. 1, meaning he will be unable to publicly present himself as a priest or publicly celebrate the sacraments.

Of the men on the list, eight are deceased - seven priests and the religious brother. Of the men who are still alive, 10 were either laicized, retired without faculties, or left the priesthood. The seminarian accused of abuse was dismissed from seminary. According to the list, no active priests credibly accused of abuse remain in active ministry in the diocese.

One of the accused men, James Rapp, was laicized and is in prison in Oklahoma. He was accused of sexually abusing four minors in Utah, and was imprisoned for abuse of minors outside of Utah. While the majority of the alleged abuses occurred prior to 2002, when the U.S. Bishops issued the Charter for Child and Youth Protection, many accusations came to light during or after that year.

In a statement on their website, the Diocese of Salt Lake said that an independent committee of lay people will review the diocese’s internal files and verify the accuracy of the information on the list. If needed, the diocese said it will update the list and publicly release any additional information provided by the lay committee.

The diocese added that it is “committed to ensuring the health and safety of young people within its community. Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay Church personnel and has not yet reported the incident is encouraged to do so.”

The full report can be found on the diocesan website.

Pope's white Lamborghini up for raffle; winner gets trip to Rome

A custom-built 2018 Lamborghini Huracan coupe autographed by Pope Francis is back on the block, but, this time with an online fundraising platform, not at an elite European auction house.

Youth, migrant ministries among recipients of home mission grants

Recipients of grants approved by the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions range from migrant ministry in the Diocese of Stockton, California, to pastoral support to children and families on remote islands in the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Indonesian police, Muslim youth to help guard churches at Christmas

More than 90,000 police and soldiers and a moderate Muslim youth group will help guard nearly 50,000 churches across Indonesia, including some previously attacked by terrorists, during the Christmas period.

Vatican publishes pope's Christmas schedule

Pope Francis has a full schedule of Christmastime liturgies planned for December and January, including the customary baptism of newborn babies Jan. 13, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.