Holy Name of Jesus - Saint Gregory the Great Parish

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Learn to ponder as parents in the midst of daily life

One of the most striking themes present in the Gospels is how our Heavenly Mother would ponder or reflect on “things in her heart,” specifically when related to her son. Mary’s example demonstrates to modern parents how to go about our daily lives through pondering life’s significant moments and God’s role in them in a […]

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Amid poverty and uncertainty, migrant couples are tying the knot

Crowded living conditions, poverty and months of waiting in uncertainty are the lot of caravan migrants who are stuck in Tijuana, Mexico, and seeking asylum in the U.S. Despite the hardships, a number of couples are celebrating love at the border. 

Daily Prayer: You call us all to piousness and purity

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time You call us all to piousness and purity, Lord Jesus. We need only listen for you, and have the strength to reject the ways of the world. Reach out to us, and we shall reach out to you, lest we fall ever further into darkness. Amen. Readings: […]

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St. Gregory the Great-For he is less in need

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time For he is less in need who is without a garment, than he who is without humility. — St. Gregory the Great

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Archdiocese of New York Names Superintendent of Catholic Schools Search Committee

His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, has announced the formation of a search committee to begin the process of naming a new Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New York.

Children must see the faith lived at home, pope tells parents

Vatican City, Jan 13, 2019 / 05:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At Mass in the Sistine Chapel Sunday, Pope Francis baptized 27 babies, reminding their parents that the first space in which children learn and witness the faith is at home.

“Yes, when they go to catechism class, they will study the faith well, they will learn catechesis,” he said Jan. 13. “But before being studied, faith must be transmitted, and this is a job that is up to you.”

Preparing to baptize the 27 babies – 15 girls and 12 boys – Francis urged their parents “to transmit the faith by example, by words, by teaching [them] to make the sign of the Cross. This is important.”

“The important thing is to transmit the faith with your life of faith: that they see the love of the spouses, that they see the peace of the house, that they see that Jesus is there,” he said.

Francis gave the brief, impromptu homily during Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when there is a tradition of baptizing a group of babies in the Sistine Chapel, a custom started by Pope St. John Paul II.

In his homily, he said that it is the parents’ task to pass the faith along to their children, beginning at home, “because faith must always be transmitted ‘in dialect:’ the dialect of the family, the dialect of the house, in the atmosphere of the home.”

Asking if he could give a little advice, he went on to urge the couples not to fight in front of their children. He noted that it is perfectly normal for a husband and wife to quarrel but recommended trying to keep arguments out of the view and hearing of their kids.

“This, I dare, is a piece of advice that will help you pass on the faith,” he said.

The pope also commented on the “chorus of tears,” that could be heard coming from the over two dozen babies in the chapel and said mothers should not be ashamed to breastfeed if their child is hungry.

“And so, we go forward in this ceremony, in peace, with the awareness that the transmission of the faith is your responsibility,” he said.

Following Mass, the pope reflected on the Baptism of Christ before leading the Angelus, noting that before Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river took place, he was “in the midst of the people.”

This element of the story “is not only a background of the scene, but is an essential component of the event,” he said. “Before plunging into the water, Jesus ‘plunges’ into the crowd, joins it and fully assumes the human condition, sharing everything except sin.”

“In his divine holiness, full of grace and mercy, the Son of God became flesh to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world,” he continued.

Explaining that Jesus’ baptism marks the start of his public life and mission, Francis noted that the mission of the Church and each person to be “faithful and fruitful,” calls for a “grafting” onto the mission of Jesus.

“It is a matter of continuously regenerating evangelization and apostolate in prayer, to make a clear Christian witness. Not according to human projects, but according to God’s plan and style,” he said.

“The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a favorable opportunity to renew with gratitude and conviction the promises of our Baptism, committing ourselves to live daily in harmony with it.”

 

A pro-life Democrat on why language matters in the abortion debate

Washington D.C., Jan 13, 2019 / 04:51 am (CNA).- The language that people choose to use in reference to unborn children and ideological opponents is at the crux of the abortion debate, a pro-life Democrat argued in a New York Times op-ed this week.

“The struggle in the abortion debate is, in many ways, a struggle over language,” wrote Charles C. Camosy, who serves on the advisory board for pro-life group Democrats for Life and is an associate professor at Fordham University.  

“For example, I am pro-life. I strongly support rights and protections for mothers and children, including prenatal children, and other vulnerable populations. I want to see the laws of this country protect these people as well. In my view, this makes me pro-life. That’s why I use the phrase ‘prenatal child’ where other people would say ‘fetus,’” he said.

However, in the view of pro-choice people and of many mainstream media outlets, “I am not pro-life; I am anti-abortion. This language allows critics to dismiss me and fellow pro-lifers as single-issue obsessives, which we are not.”

Camosy noted that in recent years, those in favor of legal abortion have shifted their language from more neutral words like “autonomy” and “choice” and have used stronger, “stigma-defying” words that refer to abortion as “care” or as a “family value” or something about which one should shout.

Language choice becomes even more harmful when it is used as a tactic to dehumanize the unborn, he said. “The New York Times editorial board, for instance, recently used the phrase ‘clusters of cells that have not yet developed into viable human beings,’ in a discussion of rights being extended to a fetus in the womb, or what I call a prenatal child.

“Language like this ignores the fact that each of us once existed as ‘clusters of cells that have not yet developed into viable human beings.’ It seeks to hide the fact that by the time most surgical abortions take place, a prenatal child has electrical activity in the brain and a beating heart,” Camosy wrote.

Other terms used to dehumanize the unborn include: “tissue,” “part of the mother,” “parasite,” and “potential life,” he noted.

These words are biased because they are not used to refer to the unborn outside of an abortion context, he added. The word “baby” is used for almost everything else - doctor’s visits, baby showers, baby bumps, etc.

“We have shifted our language in ways that hide the dignity of the vulnerable, in this instance and on issues far from the abortion debate as well,” Camosy said, which “deadens one’s capacity to show concern for those who need it most.”

This language shifting, which objectifies humans and seeks to decrease their dignity, is part of what Pope Francis calls the “throwaway culture,” he noted.

Often, when Pope Francis speaks of the throwaway culture, he is referring to unbridled consumerism which dismisses the human dignity of those considered inconvenient, Camosy said, but Francis typically reserves his strongest words on the subject for the topic of abortion.

Research from Rehumanize International, a pro-life group, “has found tragic patterns in which marginalized populations are referred to as sub-humans, defective humans, parasites — and in the process become thought of as objects, things and products.”

This is limited not to unborn children, but to other vulnerable populations like immigrants, racial minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities, and prisoners, among others, he wrote.

“The Trump administration’s forced separation of immigrant children from their parents is a classic example of using people as objects. The administration’s ill-conceived attempt to use the profound suffering of children to deter illegal immigration failed to respect these children as human beings deserving of care and respect, not objects to be used as a means to an end,” he said.

Immigrants have also been dismissed or dehumanized using terms such as “illegals,” “swarms” of “undesirables,” “parasites,” or even “rapists” and “animals,” Camosy said.

He urged everyone who has genuine concern for vulnerable people to resist the urge to use dehumanizing language “intended to confirm biases and serve the interests of those who hold power over the weak.”

“If we are to avoid the hopelessly stale culture-war debates of the 1970s, then we must refuse the false choice between supporting vulnerable women and protecting vulnerable prenatal children,” he said.

“It will mean genuinely wrestling with the complexity of doing both. And it will mean engaging the arguments of our perceived opponents in good faith.”

 

Catholic Relief Services: Immigration action must consider root causes

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2019 / 04:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the ongoing discussions surrounding immigration, part of the solution must involve looking at the factors that drive people to leave their homes in the first place, said the vice president of an international Catholic aid group.

“What we would like is more attention to addressing why people flee,” said Bill O'Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy for Catholic Relief Services.

O’Keefe spoke with CNA about the motives behind immigration to the United States, and how Catholic Relief Services is working to address these root causes.  

“There’s a range of reasons why people migrate from different parts of the world, but in summary: conflict, persecution, climate change, and extreme poverty are the principal drivers that we see.”

For example, he said, “you have people who are refugees or want to claim asylum in the United States because of persecution and violence.”

These refugees – such as those trying to escape religious persecution in the Middle East, civil war in parts of Africa, or gang violence in Central America – are really “forced migrants,” he said.  

“Their lives are at risk. They flee when they determine that staying would be a death sentence.”

There are also migrants who come to the United States “to live a better life,” often because they have no future or way to escape extreme poverty in their home country, O’Keefe continued.

In one part of West Africa where Catholic Relief Services works, there are rural communities where generations of families have farmed the land, he said. But changes in climate in recent years mean that agricultural productivity has dropped significantly, and farms that previously sustained families can no longer do so. Young people realize that they cannot survive by farming, and they are forced to move.

Jan. 6-12 marks National Migration Week, which has been observed by the U.S. Church for almost 50 years.

Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee, elaborated on this year’s theme, “Building Communities of Welcome.”

“In this moment, it is particularly important for the Church to highlight the spirit of welcome that we are all called to embody in response to immigrant and refugee populations who are in our midst sharing our Church and our communities,” he said in a statement.

Immigration remains a divisive subject in Washington, D.C. In an evening address on Jan. 8, President Donald Trump reiterated his insistence that a border wall is necessary to keep America safe from drugs and violent gangs. Democrats in Congress have pushed back against the idea, refusing to agree to a budget that funds the wall. The dispute has prompted a partial federal government shutdown that has now lasted three weeks, with no end in sight.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has long advocated for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, with an earned legalization program, along with “targeted, proportional, and humane” enforcement measures.

The conference has also called for a temporary worker program that responds to market needs and protects against abuses, as well as the restoration of due process protections for immigrants, an emphasis on family unification, and policy changes to address the deeper causes of immigration.

Examining and addressing the things that drive people to leave their homes in the first place are key parts of a comprehensive approach to immigration, O’Keefe said.

“What needs more focused attention is how to help countries in Central America, for example, to address problems of violence, gangs, and poverty in those countries, so people don’t feel like they have to flee.”

This work is part of Catholic Relief Services’ focus as an international agency.

In El Salvador, where extreme gang violence has forced thousands to flee their homes, Catholic Relief Services runs a gang violence reduction program for young people. The agency works to help young people complete their education, get a job, and recognize that they have alternatives to joining a gang.  

“We have 15,000 youth or so who have gone through that program successfully, and a very high retention rate in terms of education and jobs,” O’Keefe said.

The agency also builds relationships with local companies in El Salvador, so that young people who complete the violence reduction program can find jobs. Sometimes there is a stigma against hiring former gang members, which can contribute to the problem, as ex-gang members who find themselves unemployed may be more likely to return to violent activity.

Catholic Relief Services certifies people who have completed their program, O’Keefe said. This increases their job prospects, boosting employer confidence and trust that they will be good employees.

In poor, rural areas of Honduras, the agency is working to implement a U.S. government-supported school feeding program.

The idea, O’Keefe said, is to build prospects for education in a poor part of the country by connecting families to educational institutions, so there is less incentive for them to leave.

“The more children are connected to schools and education, the less likely they are to fall into trouble,” he said.

“In Central America, one of the most climate-impacted parts of the world, we have done a lot of work with small farmers, particularly in the coffee sector,” O’Keefe continued. Coffee tends to grow on hills and mountains, he explained, and as the climate has gotten warmer, farmers have to go to higher elevations to grow the crop.  

Catholic Relief Services has helped the famers make that transition, O’Keefe said, whether it be a transition to different crops, farming techniques, or elevations. As a result, the people have avoided sinking further into poverty and in some cases are moving forward economically.

“That allows them to stay on their land and not feel like they have to migrate,” he said.

For Catholics, thinking about migration should always emphasize the dignity of human person, O’Keefe said. He noted the Share the Journey campaign launched in response to Pope Francis’ call a year ago for Catholics to unite in solidarity with migrants.

Over the past year, Catholic Relief Services has worked with the U.S. bishops’ conference and Migration and Refugee Services, as well as dioceses and Catholic universities, to organize events and activities “that highlight the plight of migrants and refugees, and just help Catholics in the United States to deepen their own understanding of…why people flee, what that experience is like, and really to have an experience of encounter.”

In a sub-campaign called Be Not Afraid, Catholic Relief Services worked with a videographer to bring together refugees and American citizens who had concerns and fears about immigration.

Videos on the Share the Journey website show the moment of encounter between people who come from different backgrounds and perspectives.

“That moment of encounter between them as human beings, where they recognize each other’s humanity.” O’Keefe said. “We did that because we really wanted to show what the Holy Father is asking us to do.”

 

Daily Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you are the son

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Lord Jesus Christ, you are the son of the Father, your ministry to complete a mission which has been yours alone since before time began. All earthly signs of your magnificence pale in comparison to the glories of the Holy Spirit, your triune partner and advocate for mercy. […]

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Vatican's first official sports association includes migrant members

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2019 / 06:01 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Thursday the start of the first official sports association inside of the small city-state, including among its membership two young African migrants living in Italy, to show how sport can aid integration.

The migrant members of the Athletica Vaticana sports team, which also consists of Vatican citizens and employees of the Holy See, are guests of the Auxilium cooperative in Castelnuovo di Porto, where Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass in 2016.

Under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the group’s main sport for the time being is running, and it participates in marathons including Rome’s annual “Via Pacis” half-marathon, an inter-religious event which also benefits the poor through the pope’s charity office.

To aid in evangelization, the team composed a “Prayer of the Marathoner,” which was translated into 37 languages, including Arabic and Swahili, and printed onto an image of a 4th-century fresco of an athlete from one of Rome’s catacombs. They distribute the cards at the starting line of competitions. They have also promoted the celebration of Mass before races.

“Effectively, authentic sport is part of one of the basic components of the human being,” the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, told journalists at a press conference Jan. 10. “The history of culture always had a connection with sport.”

Participation is open to men and women of all ages (and their immediate family members) who are working for the Vatican in some capacity, including priests and religious. Members range in age from 19 to 62.

The team is comprised of around 60 people associated with the Vatican in capacities ranging from Swiss Guard to employee of the Vatican Pharmacy to members of the Roman Curia. Members also include Vatican firefighters and gendarmerie, service technicians, Vatican Museums employees, and a professor of the Apostolic Library.

The association came about in an organic manner, according to its leaders, since an informal community of Vatican employees had already been running together on a path along the Tiber River some early mornings before work.

Athletica Vaticana also has the participation of athletes with disabilities as “honorary members” through partnerships with two Italian Paralympics organizations.

Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and president of the new sports association, stated that the collaboration between Athletica Vaticana and disabled athletes has a cultural value and, “as Pope Francis teaches, it aims at encouraging a change of mentality and actions even within the Church itself to meet people with disabilities.”