TUESDAY     April 4, 2000    vol. 11, no. 67    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial
  • Events that occurred in Church History for April 4, 5 and 6
  • APPRECIATION OF THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH: Installments 145, 146 and 147

  • Time to shake up our lives and let the salt flow freely as an asset to others rather than be stone-cold rocksalt and a liability to all!

    "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its strength, what shall it be salted with? It is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men."

    Matthew 4: 27-28

        In today's editorial, having just passed the midway point of Lent, we as Catholics need to lick our wounds and, like Christ rise up, no matter the weight of our own cross in order to plead with God for His Divine Mercy on behalf of a sinful world where one wonders just how many just men are left as in the days of Abraham who tried to intercede for the misguided people of Sodom and Gomorrah. In following Our Lord's words in Matthew 4: 27-28, rather than depending on others to pray, to do the work of interceding, we need to "gut out" the remaining days of Lent in penitent fashion by putting on the sackcloth of sacrifice, fasting and good deeds in order to become the salt of the earth and help countless others avoid the demise that befell Lot's wife when God turned her into a pillar of salt. For today's editorial Sackcloth sure beats rocksalt! , click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT

    Sackcloth sure beats rocksalt!

    Michael Cain, editor

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    Events that happened today in Church History

       Today is the anniversary of the death of two Popes in history, one Pope Formosus, the 111th successor of Peter, died on this date in 896 after a five year papacy best remembered for converting the Bulgarians to Christianity. The other is Pope Nicholas IV, the 191st in the line of Peter and the first Franciscan Pope ever whose claim to fame during his four year pontificate was strengthening the missions, bringing order to the Court of Portugal and promoting scholasticism. He died in 1292. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES - APRIL 4th EVENTS as well as APRIL 5th EVENTS and APRIL 6th EVENTS

    Historical Events in Church Annals for April 4:

    • 304 A.D.
    • Deaths of Saint Agape and her sisters Saint Chionia and Saint Irene who were burned alive by the evil Roman emperor Diocletian because they would not renounce their faith or break their virginity.

    • 397 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Ambrose the pagan from Gaul who converted, became a great bishop, baptized Saint Augustine, and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII.

    • 636 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Isidore of Seville, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (see This weekend's Liturgy.

    • 896 A.D.
    • Death of Pope Formosus, the Ostian-born pontiff and 111th successor of Peter who was largely responsible for converting Bulgaria.

    • 1284 A.D.
    • Death of King Alfonso X, monarch of Castile-Leon.

    • 1292 A.D.
    • Death of Pope Nicolas IV the first Franciscan pope who was the 191st successor of Peter who brought order to the Court of Portugal.
    • 1297 A.D.
    • Pope Boniface VIII deeds Corsica and Sardinia to James II, King of Aragon.

    • 1305 A.D.
    • Death of Queen Joan, wife of Philip "the Fair", King of France.

    • 1406 A.D.
    • Death of Robert III, the King of Scotland.

    • 1490 A.D.
    • Death of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary

    • 1581 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Benedict the Moor, a humble Franciscan servant and confessor who preferred the obscure chore of cooking over teaching. He was noted for many miracles and is considered one of the patron saints of African Americans.

    • 1999 A.D.
    • Rwandan Bishop Augustin Misago, Shepherd of Gikongoro, is arrested under false allegations of complicity in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis. The Church steadfastly has insisted it is all part of a government attempt to discredit the Church among the people. To this day the Bishop is still on trial.

    Historical Events in Church Annals for April 5:

    • 823 A.D.
    • Pope Pascal I crowns Lothair, son of Louis Holy Roman Emperor.

    • 1355 A.D.
    • Pope Innocent VI, the fifth in the line of Avignon Popes, crowns Charles IV of Bohemia as the Holy Roman Emperor.

    • 1419 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Vincent Ferrer, a Dominican who played a key role in ending the Western Schism.

    • 1494 A.D.
    • The Florentine church Santa Maria del Fiore is struck by lightning. It would be refurbished by works of Michelangelo and Raphael who were commissioned the project before being called to Rome.

    Historical Events in Church Annals for April 6:

    • 1199 A.D.
    • Death of the great crusader Richard the "Lionhearted", King of England.

    • 1203 A.D.
    • Death of Saint William of Ebelholt, canon regular who was renowned for miracles attributed to him and was canonized twenty one years after his death by Pope Honorius III.

    • 1249 A.D.
    • Another great crusader Saint Louis (King Louis IX) is captured by the infidels but would survive and return to France.

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    Appreciation of the Incarnation

        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, appropriately in following up the Holy Father's "Jubilee Journey" last month, the first part of the catechesis on The Incarnation which began it all at the Annunciation as explained in My Catholic Faith for it was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that He would become Emmanuel and be born of a woman as "The Word was made flesh." For the 145th installment, see THE INCARNATION - part one and for the 146th installment, see THE INCARNATION - part two and for the 147th installment, see THE NATIVITY - part one.

    April 4: vol. 11, no. 67: Installment 145: THE INCARNATION part one

          "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin bethrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women.' When she had seen him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus'" (Luke 1: 26-31).

          By the Incarnation, the third article of the Apostles' Creed, is meant that the Son of God, retaining His Divine nature, took to Himself a human nature, that is, a body and soul like ours.

          The Incarnation is the greatest act of humility possible. By it the Son of God, eternal, almighty, infinite, voluntarily took upon Himself human nature with its weaknesses. He circumscribed Himself with a human body that would feel sickness and pain, and with a human soul that would cause Him agony.

          Incarnation means "becoming flesh." Thus the Son of God took a human body and soul and united it to His divine Peson. Without ceasing to be God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man at the same time. The divine nature of Christ is from all eternity. Only His human nature began at the Incarnation, when the Son of God became man.

          By virtue of the Incarnation Jesus Christ came to earth. This is a mystery which we can never fully understand, but must be content to honor and adore. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Christ as man was like us in all things except sin. He count not sin, because He is God. But in all other things He was like us: he had a human body, a human soul, a human will. Can we understand this with our reason? Hardly. As St. John Chrysostom said: "I know that the Son of God became man, but how, I do not know." God, Who produced the universe from nothing, also caused the Incarnation.

          The Son of God was conceived and made man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Three Persons of God cooperated in the Incarnatiion, but only the Second Person took on flesh; only He took to Himself a human nature.

          The Incarnation is peculiarly the work of the Blessed Trinity. They formed a human soul and a human body, and these they united to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity; the result was Our Lord Jesus Christ, God-Man. To the power of the Holy Spirit we attribute the Incarnation, because the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity peculiarly expresses the Spirit of Love: and the Incarnation is the supreme example of God's love for men.

    April 5: vol. 11, no. 68: Installment 146: THE INCARNATION part two

          It was fitting that God the Son should become incarnate, rather than the Father or the Holy Spirit; for the Son proceeds from the Father, and could be sent by Him. God the Son then could, as the fruit of His Redemption, send God the Holy Spirit. Thus through the Son of God we became adopted sons of God. The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day, the day on which the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.

          In Nazareth of Galilee lived the Blessed Virgin Mary. One day the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and said: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28). Mary was surprised. The angel said: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His names Jesus." This event is called the Annunciation, commemorated by the solemnity of this Feast on March 25. This year it took on even more significance when the Vicar of Christ - Pope John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth during his historic "Jubilee Journey."

          Mary knew that the angel was sent by God. She answered: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word" (Luke 1:28). Mary was surprised. The angel said: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus." This event, as we mentioned earlier, is called the Annunciation and the date is set in equation to His Nativity on December 25th with the nine month pregnancy of the Savior dating back to March 25th.

          The mystery of the Incarnation is commemorated daily by the Angelus, a prayer said by Catholics morning, noon, and night, at the ringing of the Angelus bell, a tradition that sadly has been abandoned in many parishes and is really only still practiced in monasteries and convents and parishes where tradition is treasured. During the Easter time the prayer Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) is substituted for the Angelus. Those who prefer may simply recite five Hail Marys instead of the Angelus or the Regina Coeli. The same indulgence is gained. The Angelus was formerly recited kneeling, except from Saturday noon to Sunday evening inclusive. Now it is recited according to one's convenience. The Regina Coeli is always recited standing.

          Jesus Christ had a human mother, the Blessed Virtin Mary, but He had no human father. The Blessed Virgin was Christ's mother as man, but not as God. However, the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God, because the humanity and divinity of her Son are inseparable. In a similar way we call our parents mother and father, although they only gave us our body, and not our soul.

          Christ had no human father. The Blessed Virgin remained a virgin all her life. The conception of Our Lord is a great miracle and mystery that we cannot understand. We can only accept it as true on the word of God, Who is almighty.

          Saint Joseph was the legal spouse of Mary, but both of them preserved their virginity, consecrating it to God. They always lived together as brother and sister. St. Joseph was only the guardian of foster-father of Our Lord.

          We should honor and love Saint Joseph, because Our Lord honored and loved him. Holy Scripture calls him a just man. He was a most pure man; and this is why God selected him as the virgin spouse of Mary, to care for her and the Child Jesus. Jesus loved St. Joseph, and obeyed his slightest wish. Mary even called Joseph the father of Jesus.

          It seems that Saint Joseph was born in Bethlehem of Judea. But at the time of the Annunciation, he and Mary were living in Nazareth of Galilee. He was a carpenter. It appears that he died before the beginning of Christ's public life. The memory of Saint Joseph was venerated from the very earliest centuries. In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared St. Josep Patron of the universal Church. He is also patron of a happy death. We should invoke his protection often. His feast, kept on March 19, has been celebrataes since the 15th century. The feast of St. Joseph the Worker is celebrated on May 1st.

    April 6: vol. 11, no. 69: THE NATIVITY part one

          "And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds in the same district living in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of God shone round about them, and they feared exceedingly. And the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there has been born to you today in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord' " (Luke 2:7-11).

          Jesus Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Christmas Day, in Bethlehem, two thousand years ago this year.

          When Jesus Christ was born, the Jews were no longer independent. In 64 B.C. Pompey reduced their kingdom and subjected it to Rome. Because the Jews were always plotting rebellion against Rome, the Jewish king was replaced by Herod, a Gentile, the first non-Jew to become king. Thus the scepter was "taken away from Juda", and the time predicted for the Messias had arrived.

          Today we reckon dates from the birth of Christ. This has been the continuous custom since the time of Charlemagne, although many rulers from the 5th century had adopted the practice. However, there is an error of some four to six years. Generally, it is supposed, as a matter of historical fact, that Christ was born 7-5 B.C. An error in the calculation dates in later centuries produced this anomaly, though today, going by the Gregorian calendar established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, the year 0 connotates the Year of Our Lord Anno Domini. Ergo, anything before the year 0 was considered "Before Christ" or B.C. and anything after, was A.D. Therefore, this year we celebrate the 2000th anniversary of Our Lord's birth.

          Bethlehem is a little town in Judea, near the city of Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary went there in obedience to the Emperor at Rome, who had commanded all his subjects to register in the towns of their ancestors. Joseph and Mary were both descended from King David, whose city was Bethlehem; this is why they went to register there. They tried to find a place to stay in even for only a night, but could find refuge nowhere. And so they sought shelter in a poor stable; there Jesus was born. Jesus was born in a stable, a poor place. He preferred poverty and humiliation in order to suffer more for us.

          The Church celebrates the Nativity on December 25. The feast is called Christmas. On this day every priest is granted the privilege of saying three Masses; one in commemoration of Christ's eternal birth from God the Father - often the Midnight Mass; another in remembrance of His temporal birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Mass for Dawn on Christmas Day; and a third to recall His spiritual birth in the hearts of the faithful - considered the Christmas Day Mass. There is also the Vigil of Christmas celebrated on Christmas Eve with an entirely different set of readings. The word "Christmas" comes from Christ and Mass. The feast is so called because on that day the Mass commemorating the birth of Christ is said. How sad this holy word is so misused today in the secular world with its pagan practices.

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    Why we need to keep the bloodstream to our souls free of sin

       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".

    "All is not black on on one side, and all is not white on another. When a body becomes diseased, the germ does not localize in one organ to the exclusion of all others; it infects the whole blood stream."

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    April 4, 5, 6, 2000     volume 11, no. 67, 68, 69
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