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Pencil Preaching for Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Saying “I Do” to Financial Security

Whether you and your spouse are newlyweds or approaching a silver anniversary, how you manage savings, retirement, and other personal financial issues is critical for both your family finances and your marriage overall. Here are five tips that will help couples build healthy habits and create a foundation of financial strength for their families that […]

The post Saying “I Do” to Financial Security appeared first on Catholic Digest.


Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow. — St. Philip Neri

The post ST. PHILIP NERI – LET ME GET THROUGH TODAY … appeared first on Catholic Digest.

Bishop on Memorial Day: Sacrifice for others is at the heart of our faith

CNA Staff, May 25, 2020 / 10:54 am (CNA).- As Catholics celebrate Memorial Day this year, they should keep in mind not only the sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives in service to the country, but also Christ’s sacrifice, which is at the heart of our faith, said Bishop David O'Connell of Trenton.

In a message to the faithful of his diocese, O’Connell noted that Memorial Day is often celebrated with cookouts, swimming, and parades, as well as visits to military cemeteries to honor veterans who have died in service to the country. He called on Catholics to remember the memory and sacrifices of those who have fallen.

“Memorial Day honors those brave women and men who proudly wore the uniform of our armed forces and made the ultimate sacrifices that have become the lifeblood of our republic,” he said. “It is entirely fitting that we remember them with gratitude and pride.”

The faithful can also see in the sacrifice of fallen veterans a reminder of the sacrifice of Christ, and a call to lay down their own lives in service to others, O’Connell said.

“For Catholics, sacrifice and dying for others is the very root of our faith,” he said. “We need look no further than the Crucifix that is the central symbol of our religious consciousness to remember how the Lord Jesus redeemed us through his death and freed us from sin.”

The bishop recalled Christ’s words that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

“The sacrifices made by our countrymen and women throughout American history are a reminder of Christ’s message,” he said.


Pope Francis, Catholic shrines to offer rosary for Mary’s help during pandemic

Vatican City, May 25, 2020 / 10:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will pray the rosary in the Vatican Gardens’ Lourdes grotto on Saturday, as Catholic shrines from around the world join via video streaming.

The intention of the worldwide rosary is for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s help and solace during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a letter sent to shrine rectors by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the livestreamed prayer will take place at 5:30 p.m. Rome time on May 30.

Catholic shrines have been asked to participate by holding their own recitation of the rosary, in accordance with local health measures, at the same time as the Rome event and to promote the initiative.

They have also been asked, if possible, to provide satellite or streaming connections with the Vatican’s television center so that video footage of the rosary at the different shrines can be shared during Pope Francis’ livestream.

During the coronavirus emergency, many Catholic shrines have had to close to the public, including the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, which only partially reopened to pilgrims May 16.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal has also been closed and the May 13 anniversary of the 1917 Marian apparitions were celebrated without the presence of the public for the first time in its history due to the pandemic.

The rosary with Pope Francis is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which in its letter to rectors paraphrased the Acts of the Apostles 1:14: “All joined together constantly in prayer, along [with] Mary.”

“In light of the emergency situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic that has caused the stoppage of the normal activity of all Shrines and the interruption of all pilgrimages, Pope Francis wishes to express a gesture of closeness to each of you with the recitation of the Holy Rosary,” Archbishop Fisichella wrote.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has been responsible for Catholic shrines since 2017.

Globally, there have been more than 5.4 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with more than 340,000 recorded deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.


Why medical students should learn about religion

Denver Newsroom, May 25, 2020 / 10:01 am (CNA).- Four medical school educators have said that fully to address a patient’s needs, physicians should begin asking questions about the patient’s spirituality and religion.

A May 19 opinion piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine was written by a group of medical educators: Doctors Kristin Collier, Cornelius James, Sanjay Saint, and Joel Howell.

Is It Time to More Fully Address Teaching Religion and Spirituality in Medicine?” said assessing a patient's religious beliefs is important to understanding fully the person. They also highlighted the significance of spirituality in America.

“Today, approximately 90% of Americans believe in God or a higher power. Furthermore, 53% of Americans consider religion to be ‘very important’ in their lives,” they wrote.

“Because religious commitment is intrinsically connected to cultural, mental, spiritual, and societal aspects of wellness, many patients believe that any authentic approach to health care ought to engage their religious commitments.”

However, physicians often do not discuss spirituality with their patients. Physicians promote a medical education based on quantitative science, which ignores immaterial, spiritual realities, they said.
“Science became an almost unquestioned source of authority. Physicians started seeing patients less as social beings with families and faith being essential parts of their lives, and more as collections of malfunctioning organs defined by microscopic pathology and bacteriologic culture,” they said.

Kristin Collier, an assistant professor and the director of the University of Michigan Medical School Program on Health Spirituality & Religion, said patients want a deeper relationship with their physician.

“I’m a primary care doctor so I have relationships with people over time … As physicians, we are not technicians taking care of complex machines. We are taking care of human beings and we know from research that patients desire to be seen as whole persons,” she told CNA.

She pointed to the example of Cicely Saunders, an English nurse and a founder of palliative medicine. Saunders emphasized four dynamics: physical, social, physiological, and spiritual. Addressing only half of these needs will only acknowledge half of the person, Collier added.

“Patients have social needs, they have spiritual needs. Those needs actually can intersect for the physical. For example, patients who have under-recognized, undertreated spiritual needs at the end of life ... can [contribute to] unremitting physical pain,” she said.

According to the opinion piece, there is a lack of training and mentorship fully to equip upcoming doctors to discuss spirituality. They said 78% of medical students reported that they have rarely or never seen their instructors discuss religion with their patients.

The Association of American Medical Colleges has required a core set of “spiritual competencies” for students to undertake in their medical education. The AAMC defines spirituality as an individual’s search for meaning through a participation in “religion and/or belief in God, family, naturalism, rationalism, humanism and the arts.”

Collier said a lot of medical schools have a curriculum for spirituality and described the curriculum at the University of Michigan Medical School. She said one of the examples is the FICA assessment, a questionnaire that assesses a patient’s beliefs, purpose, and community. Under the program, she said, the school will provide paid actors to play the role as patients and the students will then ask spiritual questions.

However, she said doctors and instructors need to be living out this example with real patients, which is a topic that is rarely discussed. She said that in the past it was taboo for doctors to discuss a patient's sexual history, which is an essential aspect of understanding a patient’s physical health. She said that similarly, doctors will not approach the subject of spirituality because it is too private or considered to be unrelated to health care.

“In some ways, the spiritual history parallels that of the sexual history. For years, the sexual history was considered ‘off limits’ in the clinical encounter, perhaps because it was too private a subject or not relevant for most medical providers, or perhaps because providers were uncomfortable talking about a diverse range of sexual behaviors,” the opinion piece said.

To introduce the topic, she said, doctors could begin with a questionnaire, like the FICA spiritual assessment. But, this important topic should eventually transcend a questionnaire, she said, noting that a deep human interaction extends beyond the paper. She said understanding the whole person will help doctors best understand how to treat their patients.

“I think this best happens in a relationship and I have relationships with my patients… What gives your life meaning? That question can oftentimes open up a lot of really interesting insights into your patients,” she said.

“[These questions] can help inform your decisions when it comes down to end of life or goals of care conversation.”

She emphasized the importance of faith in her own life and how that has given her a valuable perspective on the treatment of patients. She said it is the responsibility of physicians to set an example of a medical practice that honors human dignity.

“I see patients made in the image of God and I want to be able to attend to everything that is causing them distress and to be able to use my team to be able to attend to that,” she said.

“We have a responsibility as medical educators to teach our medical students and residents and fellows how to deliver whole-person care because that honors the dignity of the person. And, we know that patients want to be seen as more than just their disease or their biology.”

Archbishop Ganswein: ‘Our times require courageous and convincing testimonies’

CNA Staff, May 25, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein has spent most of the last two decades standing next to the person with the microphone, in his service as an aide to both Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. But a new book collects the wisdom of Ganswein himself, and aims to call Catholics to evangelization, and to joy.

“If you would like to have three key words, here they are: Evangelization. Testimony. Joy,” Ganswein said of the book, “How the Catholic Church Can Restore Our Culture.”

The book is a collection of interviews, homilies, and essays written and delivered by Ganswein. It was published in English April 15 by EWTN Publishing. 

“The Gospel does not change according to the times, it is revealed by Christ if we seek to proclaim and live according to Him ‘in season and out of season,’ in the words of St. Paul,” Ganswein explained in an interview with ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.

Ganswein, 63, has had a front row seat to the leadership of the universal Church since 2005. In that year, his boss, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI.

Ganswein was then serving as Ratzinger’s private secretary, and continued in that role as Benedict took up the papacy. He was Benedict’s closest aide, and in 2012 became prefect of the pontifical household, overseeing the clergy and staff closest to the pope. When Francis was elected pope in 2013, Ganswein kept that role, while also continuing to serve as private secretary to the former pope.

But Ganswein’s book does not focus on his Vatican service. Instead, it focuses on a call for Catholics to live faithfully and joyfully in the communion of the Church.

“I wanted to convey that a mere intellectual knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures or the Catholic faith does not bring any fruit. It remains a fruitless knowledge if it is not ‘incarnated’ in our personal life,” the archbishop told ACI Stampa.
“We learn our faith like we learn to swim: not reading a manual, but actually swimming. So the faith becomes flesh, becomes a concrete reality by living it. Once upon a time there was a catechumenate, that is, a time in which people were introduced in a concrete way to the Christian life and doctrine. They would move forward step by step, gradually growing, becoming stronger, and thus, by living the faith, they would discover the beauty of the Christian message. Either faith is lived or is dead.”

The book, the archbishop explained, began with “an invitation from a German publisher to publish some texts of my ‘pastoral’ activity in the last years. I happily accepted and sent the publisher, as you have observed, a collection of conferences, homilies and interviews. From this collection, the expert eye of the editor has chosen the writings published in the present book.”

“Our times require courageous and convincing testimonies. Testimonies are a source of joy, great and strong joy. This is how the Church will have a future! I wanted to remind readers not to forget this simple but fundamental fact,” the archbishop added.

Pope Francis remembers 25 years of 'Ut unum sint,' John Paul II's letter on ecumenism

Vatican City, May 25, 2020 / 05:48 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday remembered Ut unum sint, St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on ecumenism, on the 25th anniversary of its publication.

Ut unum sint “confirmed ‘irrevocably’ the ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church,” the pope said May 25.

In a letter to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Francis said St. John Paul II “desired that the Church, on her journey towards the third millennium, should be ever mindful of the heartfelt prayer of her Teacher and Lord ‘that all may be one.’”

The encyclical Ut unum sint was published on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, May 25, 1995, “placing it under the sign of the Holy Spirit, the creator of unity in diversity,” Pope Francis noted.

“In that same liturgical and spiritual context, we now commemorate it, and propose it once more to the People of God,” he added.

In his letter, the pope quoted Ut unum sint, saying it reaffirmed that “legitimate diversity is in no way opposed to the Church’s unity, but rather enhances her splendor and contributes greatly to the fulfilment of her mission.”

“Indeed, ‘only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity… It is he who brings harmony to the Church,’” he continued quoting.

Pope Francis said, “one thing is certain: unity is not chiefly the result of our activity, but a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“On this anniversary, I give thanks to the Lord for the journey he has allowed us to travel as Christians in quest of full communion.”

“I too share the healthy impatience of those who sometimes think that we can and should do more,” he stated. “Yet we should not be lacking in faith and gratitude: many steps have been taken in these decades to heal the wounds of centuries and millennia.”

He explained that in this time mutual knowledge and esteem have grown, helping to overcome prejudice, and that theological dialogue has developed.

Speaking about the leaders of the different Christian churches and communities, he prayed that “like the disciples of Emmaus, may we experience the presence of the risen Christ who walks at our side and explains the Scriptures to us. May we recognize him in the breaking of the bread, as we await the day when we shall share the Eucharistic table together.”

In his letter, the pope also expressed his gratitude for those working in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity who keep the “awareness of this irrevocable goal alive in the Church.”

He also highlighted two new initiatives of the office: the Acta Œcumenica journal and an ecumenical vademecum for bishops, to be published in the fall “as an encouragement and guide for the exercise of their ecumenical responsibilities.”

“With confidence, then, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and to enable everyone to hear the call to work for the cause of ecumenism with renewed vigor,” he urged.

“May the Spirit inspire new prophetic gestures and strengthen fraternal charity among all Christ’s disciples, ‘that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21), to the ever greater praise of our Father in heaven.”

The mutual responsibility between humans and nature

Digging Into Laudato Si': God designed a world in which nature takes care of us, and God intended for us to care for it in return. Consider the politicans you vote for and the companies you support with your wallet.

Instead of televised Mass, I pray Teilhard's 'Mass on the World'

Commentary: I am a churchgoing Catholic who does not care for broadcast liturgies. During isolation, I opt for Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's "The Mass on the World."