WEDNESDAY     April 12, 2000    vol. 11, no. 73    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS - part two of LETTER TO PRIESTS
  • Dr. Frank Joseph's Pro-Life Prescriptions column on the direction all Catholics need to take in November
  • APPRECIATION OF OUR FAITH - Installment 151: The Public Life of Jesus Christ - part one
  • SIMPLY SHEEN


  • Holy Father shares his austere thoughts on the priesthood with the universal Church's priests in his annual LETTER TO PRIESTS for Holy Thursday 2000

       Today we bring you the second of three parts of the Holy Father's special LETTER TO PRIESTS for Holy Thursday 2000. He completed this touching letter, signing it in ceremonies during celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on Thursday morning, March 23rd during his historic "Jubilee Journey" in search of Salvation History. In this second part, the Vicar of Christ relives those special words uttered by Our Lord at the Last Supper and the Pope shows how the "priesthood of Christ" was so vital for the Church to begin, and, for each ordained priest since the meaning of alter Christus comes through clearly. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    Holy Father's Annual LETTER TO THE PRIESTS for Holy Thursday
    part two

      A treasure in earthen vessels

      6. It is true that in the history of the priesthood, no less than in the history of the whole People of God, the dark presence of sin is also found. Many times, the human frailty of priests has made it hard to see in them the face of Christ. Here in the Upper Room why should this amaze us? Not only did the betrayal of Judas reach its climax here, but Peter himself had to reckon with his weakness as he heard the bitter prediction of his denial. In choosing men like the Twelve, Christ was certainly under no illusions: it was upon this human weakness that He set the sacramental seal of His presence. And Paul shows us why: "We bear this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it might be clear that this extraordinary power comes from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

          For all the frailties of their priests, then, the People of God have not ceased to put their faith in the power of Christ at work through their ministry. How can we fail in this regard to recall the splendid witness of Saint Francis of Assist? Humility led him not to seek the priesthood, but in his Testament he expressed his faith in the mystery of Christ present in priests, declaring that he would turn to them even if they had persecuted him, taking no account of their sin. "And I do this", he explained, "because the only thing I see of the flesh of the most high Son of God in this world is His most holy Body and Blood which they alone consecrate and they alone administer to others" (Fonti Francescane, No. 113).

      7. From this place where Christ spoke the words instituting the Eucharist, I invite you, dear priests, to rediscover the "gift" and the "mystery" which we have received. To go to the heart of it, we must reflect upon the priesthood of Christ. Certainly, the entire People of God participates in this priesthood by Baptism. But the Second Vatican Council reminds us that, in addition to the participation proper to all the baptized, there exists another specific, ministerial participation which, although intimately linked to the first, nonetheless differs from it in essence (cf. Lumen Gentium, 10).

          In the context of the Jubilee of the Incarnation, we can approach the priesthood of Christ from a particular perspective. The Jubilee invites us to contemplate the intimate link between Christ's priesthood and the mystery of His person. The priesthood of Christ is not "incidental", a task which He might or might not have assumed: rather, it is integral to His identity as the Son Incarnate, as God-made-man. From now on, the relationship between mankind and God passes wholly through Christ: "No one comes to the Father, except through Me" (John 14:6). This is why Christ is a Priest endowed with an eternal and universal priesthood, of which the priesthood of the first Covenant was a prefigurement and a preparation (cf. Heb 9:9). He has exercised it fully from the moment He took His seat as High Priest "at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in Heaven" (Hebrews 8:1). From that time forth, the very nature of human priesthood changed: now there is but one priesthood, that of Christ, which can be shared and exercised in different ways.

      Sacerdos et Hostia

      8. At the same time, the meaning of sacrifice, the priestly act par excellence, was brought to perfection. On Golgotha, Christ made his own life an offering of eternal value, a "redemptive" offering which has reopened for ever the path of communion with God which had been blocked by sin.

          The Letter to the Hebrews casts light upon this mystery by placing on the lips of Christ the words of Psalm 40: "You desired neither sacrifice nor offering, but instead you prepared a body for Me... Here I am... I come to do your will, O God" (Heb 10:5-7; cf. Ps 40:7-9). According to the author of the Letter, these prophetic words were spoken by Christ when He first came into the world. They express His mystery and His mission. They begin to be accomplished from the very moment of the Incarnation and reach their completion in the sacrifice of Golgotha. From that time forward, every priestly offering is but a representing to the Father of the one offering of Christ, made once for all.

          Sacerdos et Hostia! Priest and Victim! This sacrificial aspect is a profound mark of the Eucharist; it is also an essential dimension of the priesthood of Christ and, therefore, of our own priesthood. In the light of this, let us read once again the words we speak every day, words which echoed for the first time here in the Upper Room: "Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is My Body which will be given up for you... Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting Covenant which will be shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven."

          These are the words we find in the Evangelists and in Paul, with largely converging redactional forms. They were spoken in this Room in the late evening of Holy Thursday. By giving the Apostles His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, Jesus declared the deepest truth about what He would do shortly thereafter on Golgotha. For in the Bread of the Eucharist is present the very Body born of Mary and offered on the Cross:

         

        Ave verum Corpus natum / de Maria Virgine,
        Vere passum, immolatum / in cruce pro homine.

      9. How can we not return ever anew to this mystery, which contains the entire life of the Church? For two thousand years, this Sacrament has given nourishment to countless believers. It has been the source of great river of grace. How many saints have found in it not only the pledge, but as it were the foretaste of Heaven!

          Let us allow ourselves to be carried along by the contemplative impulse, rich in poetry and theology, which inspired Saint Thomas Aquinas to sing of the mystery in the words of the hymn Pange Lingua. Today, in this Upper Room, these words come to me as an echo of the voice of so many Christian communities throughout the world, of so many priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, who each day pause in adoration of the Eucharistic mystery:

        Verbum caro, panem verum / verbo carnem efficit,
        fitque sanguis Christi merum, / et, si sensus deficit,
        ad firmandum cor sincerum / sola fides sufficit.

      Tomorrow: Part Three: "Do this in memory of Me"

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    Where is the outrage from the Catholic Church in America?

      Today Dr. Frank Joseph pulls no punches in telling it like it truly is. Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice pro-abort organizations seem to have a cover-up of their own, which fits comfortably into the on-going culture of death society in which we live. But what's really frustrating to Dr. Joseph - and should be to every loyal Catholic - is the fact that the pro-aborts are playing with the Church and its higher institutions of learning, mostly Jesuit liberal universities like Marquette and Georgetown. Despite the Holy Father's excellent document Ecclesia Corde, abuse and atrocities still continue in those universities as well others who call themselves Catholic institutions of higher learning. He asks why a pro-abort vice president is invited to spew his vitriol of the culture of death in a Catholic college. He also asks why many bishops and priests, and the laity for that matter, aren't outraged at such insolence. He points out that a pro-life president is ours for the effort if only we make that effort for the Catholic bloc can truly swing a pro-life victory. But we all need to get involved now in campaigning and then vote for pro-life candidates. It's a matter of life and death as he deducts and in the end, we have to answer to the Creator of all life. For his column A vote for life or death? , see Pro-Life Prescriptions: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!

    A vote for life or death?

          Al Gore, to garner more votes, in his quest to be president, spoke at Marquette University, which is a Catholic institution run by the Jesuits, on 3-27-00. A short segment of his speech was shown on TV.

          Now, let's put this picture in perspective. The Catholic Church condemns all abortions. Al Gore is 100% pro-abortion, although earlier in his career he was pro-life, as evidenced by his 84% pro-life voting record when he was a congressman. But being pro-life was a hindrance to climbing up the political ladder, so he switched. He now, even condones partial-birth abortions and if he becomes president, he will, as Clinton did, veto the ban, which would have outlawed this barbaric procedure.

          One has to wonder, why he would waste his time at a university with predominately Catholic students, who would be faithful to their God and adhere to the Doctrine of their Church and never vote for a pro-abortion candidate -- especially one who doesn't even want partial-birth abortions banned. Then again, maybe Gore knows something we don't know about our fellow Catholics.

          And why would a Catholic University, give such a man a forum to expound his views in order to get votes, so he could be elected president? A man who, with one stroke of his pen, will be responsible for the murder of thousand of babies, yearly, who otherwise would have lived and gone on to raise families of their own.

          Gore, sees no evil when a pair of scissors are plunged in the back of a baby's head when the baby is entirely delivered, except for the head, which they make sure stays in the birth canal, when it is punctured, otherwise it would be murder in anyone's book. Then a catheter is inserted in the opening and the baby's brains are sucked out with a powerful machine and the head collapses. The baby's body parts -- heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, arms legs, etc., -- are then sold to the highest bidder for experiments.

          Nurses at these abortion mills, tell stories of becoming sick and had to quit, after seeing whole babies delivered alive, only to be killed by drowning, or some other method. They watched in horror, as the babies flailed their little arms and legs and fought for their lives. Even the excruciating pain these babies suffer makes no difference to the so called pro-choicers, this administration and the abortion mills. When the entire baby is delivered intact, (including the head) it is more profitable, because the brains go for $900.00.

          As the American Medical Association said -- this barbaric procedure is never needed to save the life of the mother, nor to insure her health. It is not an emergency procedure. Other methods are better and faster. Even so, there was a clause in the ban that it could be done to save the life of the mother, but even this wasn't good enough for Clinton/Gore.

          The truth is -- The Clinton/Gore administration don't want this cruel procedure banned, in order to pay back Hollywood, the abortion industry, feminists groups and all the other self indulgent people who supported them with money and votes. They want this option open in case a woman changes her mind late in her pregnancy -- she can still have her baby killed -- "legally." This is tragic and it is sick.

          How is it possible that a Catholic University would play a part in helping a man get votes, knowing all the while that, if he became president, he will, condemn thousands of babies to a gruesome and painful death?

          Would they also, invite Hitler to speak if they knew ahead of time that he would become a warmonger, hell-bent on conquering the world and be responsible for the killing of 6 million Jews?

          We DO KNOW ahead of time, that Gore is going to sign the death warrants for thousands of viable babies every year, if he is elected president. And a Catholic school is lending a helping hand. Where is the outrage? Where are the Bishops? Why are they allowing this?

          Now, I understand, why Marquette still has an ex-Catholic priest, Daniel Maguire,who is pro-abortion teaching theology there; a man who wrote an article, that a mother should kill her unborn baby, if it will make her life easier and if the baby does suffer pain -- better the baby's pain than the mother's.

          We went to war in Kosovo, because, as Clinton said, "Crimes against humanity." Clinton had no problem with bombing trains, hospitals and pharmaceutical factories. Water supplies and electricity were knocked out. It made no difference if children and women were killed with the high altitude bombing. To go to this extreme to stop a ruthless dictator, and then turn around and commit your own "crimes against humanity" by both the bombing and vetoing the ban on PBA, is downright repugnant and hypocritical.

          Then you have another famous Catholic University -- Georgetown - another Jesuit college, which, for the past two years, has been putting on a play called, "Vagina Monologues." It was performed last month in Bulldog Alley on the Georgetown University campus. The dialogue is so repulsive that I cannot repeat it. One of the regular columnist was fired by the school newspaper (The Hoya) because he wrote an article condemning the play. Can you imagine someone at a Catholic University being fired for decency? As I mentioned in a prior article, Georgetown, also has a pro-abortion Catholic priest teaching there. By the way, Clinton went to Georgetown.

          Why am I writing all this? Because it explains the lack of a real commitment by many Catholic priests to end abortions. Their heads are filled with liberal satanist views in these so called institutes of higher learning.

          How often does your parish priest talk about the killing of unborn babies? There is NO other subject that is MORE important. How often does he talk about partial-birth abortions? How often does he urge you to VOTE for candidates who are pro-life? A priest can say these things -- it's a moral issue first and the only way to stop these atrocities is your vote. What are they afraid of? People have given up their lives for God.

          Why can't priests get a very basic message out to their parishioners. There is no doubt that the Evangelical ministers are doing a better job, in regard to the abortion issue. They are not afraid to tell their people to vote for pro-life candidates.

          The Catholic Church should not be afraid of losing their tax status, by telling their parishioners to vote for pro-life candidates. Saving lives is more important. Protestant ministers do it all the time -- they're not afraid. Besides they will NOT lose their tax status. Clinton even went to a Black church to ensure votes for his party. If that's not mixing religion with politics, then what is? There's an old saying -- "practice what you preach." "For what will profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul (Mark 8: 36).

          It explains why the percentage of Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates is greater than the Evangelicals. It explains why the percentage of Catholic women killing their unborn babies is greater than the Evangelicals. It explains why ten Catholic Universities had pro-abortion speakers at their last commencement. It explains why the heavily Catholic populated Northeastern states, consistently vote for pro-abortion Candidates. It explains why the two Senators from Massachusetts, who are Catholics, are pro-abortion and even voted to reject the ban on partial- birth abortions. The governors of New York and Pennsylvania are also Catholics and are pro-abortion.

          Why are these high level Catholic officials turning away from the Doctrine of the Catholic Church? Why aren't they excommunicated? Why are they selling their souls to satan for political gain? We know that satan tried to tempt Jesus Christ.

          I could write of other Catholic universities and priests, but you get the picture, and I would just be repeating myself. We send our children to Catholic grade and high schools, only to have their minds corrupted with satanist liberal points of view at a Catholic University!?!

          I never thought that it would be this hard to get Catholics to vote for a candidate for president, who is pro-life and it shouldn't be, because we're talking about saving human lives. How can a person believe in God and be a party to the killing of babies while they're being born? A vote for Gore -- and you WILL be a party to it. Now, this should not be hard to understand.

          You know that God would want you to save lives and not be a party to their destruction. And it doesn't take much of your time and effort. All you have to do is vote for pro-life candidates for President, the House and Senate. PLEASE, do it for God, Who sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.

          The irony of all this is -- those who know politics say that the Catholic vote is the swing vote. With 60 million Catholics in the USA and 40 million of voting age -- it will be the Catholics who will determine if we get a pro-life or a pro-abortion president.

          I am a Catholic and I'm NOT afraid of the Evangelical vote, but I FEAR the Catholic vote and it should not be that way -- should it?

          You would think this would be a "slam dunk" for life, if Catholics had anything to do about it -- wouldn't you? But it's not and therein lies the disgrace. However, it's not too late for Catholics to "slam dunk" satan and put their Catholic teaching first and politics second. It will be the Catholics who will decide if unborn babies continue to live or be killed in a gruesome manner, while they're being born. We will see.

          God could end abortions at any time, but it appears, His plan is to see what we are going to do about it. And when the time comes, when we have to give God an accounting of our life, He will ask about efforts made on this most fundamental issue, involving the killing of His most precious creations.

          How will we answer?

      Dr. Frank

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    Appreciation of the Public Life of Jesus Christ

        Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. Today we present the first part of the catechesis on The Public Life of Jesus and the highlights of the three years of His public ministry, all with a specific purpose - to convince all to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven." Unlike the hidden life of Our Lord, His public life is chronicled by the Four Evangelists in the Gospels which are the perfect guide as to how all should lead their lives as explained in My Catholic Faith. For the 151st installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 151: The Public Life of Jesus Christ part one

          Our Lord spent the three years of His public life teaching, healing the sick, working miracles to prove His mission and Divinity. One of His most wonderful miracles was the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus had been dead and buried four days. But Jesus went to the sepulchre and ordered the stone closing it to be taken away. Then He cried: "Lazarus, come forth!" And Lazarus came forth from the grave. Because of this miracle, the Pharisees became more envious, and even planned to kill Lazarus, so as to make it appear that Jesus had not raised him from the dead.

          Christ began His public life when He was about thirty years old. After spending long years in obscurity and humble toil, Jesus Christ next entered upon a period of activity, going about and teaching publicly. He left His home in Nazareth, and began His public life by an act of great humility: His baptism at the hands of Saint John the Baptist in the river Jordan.

          The mother of St. John the Baptist was Saint Elizabeth, cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. John lived a life of very rigorous penance in the desert, preparing himself for his role of forerunner or precursor of his Savior. About two years before Christ started His public life, John the Baptist went out of the desert, and began to preach penance; he baptized in the Jordan all those who believed in his teachings and wished to begin a new life. St. John the Baptist was the forerunner or precursor of Christ. He spoke to the people of the coming Messias, and pointed Jesus out to them as the "Lamb of God." He was put to death by Herod, because he reproved the ruler for his immoral life.

          Jesus came to John to be baptized; immediately afterwards, as Our Lord came out of the river, the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a dove, and a Voice from Heaven was heard saying: "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).

          After His baptism, Jesus went into the desert, where He fasted forty days and forty nights. This teaches us to look upon baptism as a call to penance, and to prepare for all kinds of activity by mortification and prayer. The forty days of Lent are intended to commemorate the forty days' fast of Our Lord. Lent, of course, lasts from Ash Wednesday till the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening.

          After Our Lord's long fast, the devil was permitted to tempt Him. Christ rebuked the devil, and angels came to minister to Him. From this temptation of Our Lord we know that a temptation is not sinful. As long as we resist the devil, we are pleasing to God, however strong may be the temptation that assails us. "God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it"(1 Corinthians 10:13).

          Christ's public life lasted about three years, during which He went about preaching, teaching, and doing good. Upon His return from His forty-day fast in the desert, Jesus called His first disciples. In a few days He performed His first miracle, changing water into wine at a marriage-feast in Cana, at the request of His Mother, although, as He told her, His time had not yet come.

          Among the outsdanding works of Jesus during the first year of His active life were: He drove sellers out of the Temple, saying they made it a "den of thieves". He cured the ruler's son, Peter's mother-in-law, the paralytic at the pool, the daughter of Jairus. He calmed the tempest.

      Tomorrow: The Public Life of Jesus Christ part two

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    We must descend in order to ascend to the heights of spirituality

       They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".

    "The key to spiritual advancement is to be found in the Creed: 'He descended into hell; the third day He arose again.' Each of us, too, must make a descent into the subconsciousness, to the portions of our minds which we keep dark, for it is here that the unspoken reservations hide. These reservations are not easily seen by us, but they color everything that we do see; they act like so many colored windows, changing the truth of external reality as it reaches our conscious minds."

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    April 12, 2000     volume 11, no. 73
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