TUESDAY     February 29, 2000    vol. 11, no. 42    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial
  • GIFT OF FAITH: Installment 120 - An Image of God part two
  • Events that occurred on this date in Church History
  • Monthly Medjugorje Message for February

  • The Holy Father has taken the Leap of Faith in undertaking his grueling "Jubilee Journey." We need to take that leap in being loyal to him!

        In today's editorial, we take advantage of Leap Day by illustrating the Leap of Faith the Holy Father made over this past weekend in completing the Pentateuch part of his historic "Jubilee Journey" and what lies ahead as the mongers of muck and dissidence try to rake him over the coals. We point out that though he is frail in figure, his mind is razor sharp and don't for a minute be deceived that this aged, holy Roman Pontiff is "losing it." Though the media love to infer that he's over the hill and should resign, they forget he has the greatest Ally on his side Who guides and inspires him - the Holy Spirit. For today's editorial The Pope may be slumped over, but he's in no slump! , click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT

    The Pope may be slumped over, but he's in no slump!

    Michael Cain, editor

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    Holy Father compares Mount Sinai of the Old Covenant with Mount Thabor of the New Covenant

       Today, because Michael Vincent Boyer's column has been delayed since he is putting his March issue of "Goodbye Hollywood" to bed, we bring you a special edition of His Holiness Pope John Paul II's moving homily at Mount Sinai on his final day in Egypt at the Monastery of Saint Catherine at the foot of the holy mountain where Moses received the Decalogue which has been the guideline for Judeo-Christian faithful ever since. He speaks of the austerity of this sacred place and the history as well as the need to reunify the monotheistic faiths. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    The Holy Father's Homily at Saint Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai on Saturday, February 26, 2000

      Dear Brothers and Sisters,

      1. In this year of the Great Jubilee, our faith leads us to become pilgrims in the footsteps of God. We contemplate the path he has taken through time, revealing to the world the magnificent mystery of his faithful Love for all humankind. Today, with great joy and deep emotion, the Bishop of Rome is a pilgrim to Mount Sinai, drawn by this holy mountain which rises like a soaring monument to what God revealed here. Here he revealed his name! Here he gave his Law, the Ten Commandments of the Covenant!

      How many have come to this place before us! Here the People of God pitched their tents (cf. Ex 19:2); here the prophet Elijah took refuge in a cave (cf. 1 Kgs 19:9); here the body of the martyr Catherine found a final resting-place; here a host of pilgrims through the ages have scaled what Saint Gregory of Nyssa called "the mountain of desire" (The Life of Moses, II, 232); here generations of monks have watched and prayed. We humbly follow in their footsteps, to "the holy ground" where the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob commissioned Moses to set his people free (cf. Ex 3:5-8).

      2. God shows himself in mysterious ways as the fire that does not consume according to a logic which defies all that we know and expect. He is the God who is at once close at hand and far-away; he is in the world but not of it. He is the God who comes to meet us, but who will not be possessed. He is "I AM WHO I AM" the name which is no name! I AM WHO I AM: the divine abyss in which essence and existence are one! The God who is Being itself! Before such a mystery, how can we fail to "take off our shoes" as he commands, and adore him on this holy ground?

      Here on Mount Sinai, the truth of "who God is" became the foundation and guarantee of the Covenant. Moses enters "the luminous darkness" (The Life of Moses, II, 164), and there he is given the Law "written with the finger of God" (Ex 31:18). But what is this Law? It is the Law of life and freedom!

      At the Red Sea, the people had experienced a great liberation. They had seen the power and fidelity of God; they had discovered that he is the God who does indeed set his people free as he had promised. But now on the heights of Sinai, this same God seals his love by making the Covenant that he will never renounce. If the people obey his Law, they will know freedom for ever. The Exodus and the Covenant are not just events of the past; they are for ever the destiny of all God's people!

      3. The encounter of God and Moses on this Mountain enshrines at the heart of our religion the mystery of liberating obedience, which finds its fulfilment in the perfect obedience of Christ in the Incarnation and on the Cross (cf. Phil 2:8; Heb 5:8-9). We too shall be truly free if we learn to obey as Jesus did (cf. Heb 5:8).

      The Ten Commandments are not an arbitrary imposition of a tyrannical Lord. They were written in stone; but before that, they were written on the human heart as the universal moral law, valid in every time and place. Today as always, the Ten Words of the Law provide the only true basis for the lives of individuals, societies and nations. Today as always, they are the only future of the human family. They save man from the destructive force of egoism, hatred and falsehood. They point out all the false gods that draw him into slavery: the love of self to the exclusion of God, the greed for power and pleasure that overturns the order of justice and degrades our human dignity and that of our neighbor. If we turn from these false idols and follow the God who sets his people free and remains always with them, then we shall emerge like Moses, after forty days on the mountain, "shining with glory" (Saint Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses, II, 230), ablaze with the light of God!

      To keep the Commandments is be faithful to God, but it is also to be faithful to ourselves, to our true nature and our deepest aspirations. The wind which still today blows from Sinai reminds us that God wants to be honored in and through the growth of his creatures: Gloria Dei, homo vivens. In this sense, that wind carries an insistent invitation to dialogue between the followers of the great monotheistic religions in their service of the human family. It suggests that in God we can find the point of our encounter: in God the All Powerful and All Merciful, Creator of the universe and Lord of history, who at the end of our earthly existence will judge us with perfect justice.

      4. The Gospel Reading which we have just listened to suggests that Sinai finds its fulfilment on another mountain, the Mountain of the Transfiguration, where Jesus appears to his Apostles shining with the glory of God. Moses and Elijah stand with him to testify that the fullness of God's revelation is found in the glorified Christ.

      On the Mountain of the Transfiguration, God speaks from the cloud, as he had done on Sinai. But now he says: "This is my beloved Son; listen to him" (Mk 9:7). He commands us to listen to his Son, because "no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mt 11:27). And so we learn that the true name of God is FATHER! The name which is beyond all other names: ABBA! (cf. Gal 4:6). And in Jesus we learn that our true name is SON, DAUGHTER! We learn that the God of the Exodus and the Covenant sets his people free because they are his sons and daughters, created not for slavery but for "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:21).

      So when Saint Paul writes that we "have died to the law through the body of Christ" (Rom 7:4), he does not mean that the Law of Sinai is past. He means that the Ten Commandments now make themselves heard through the voice of the Beloved Son. The person delivered by Jesus Christ into true freedom is aware of being bound not externally by a multitude of prescriptions, but internally by the love which has taken hold in the deepest recesses of his heart. The Ten Commandments are the law of freedom: not the freedom to follow our blind passions, but the freedom to love, to choose what is good in every situation, even when to do so is a burden. It is not an impersonal law that we obey; what is required is loving surrender to the Father through Christ Jesus in the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 6:14; Gal 5:18). In revealing himself on the Mountain and giving his Law, God revealed man to man himself. Sinai stands at the very heart of the truth about man and his destiny.

      5. In pursuit of this truth, the monks of this Monastery pitched their tent in the shadow of Sinai. The Monastery of the Transfiguration and Saint Catherine bears all the marks of time and human turmoil, but it stands indomitable as a witness to divine wisdom and love. For centuries monks from all Christian traditions lived and prayed together in this Monastery, listening to the Word, in whom dwells the fullness of the Father's wisdom and love. In this very Monastery, Saint John Climacus, wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a spiritual masterpiece that continues to inspire monks and nuns, from East and West, generation after generation. All this has taken place under the mighty protection of the Great Mother of God. As early as the third century Egyptian Christians appealed to her with words of trust: We have recourse to your protection, O Holy Mother of God! Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix! Through the centuries, this Monastery has been an exceptional meeting place for people belonging to different Churches, traditions and cultures. I pray that in the new millennium the Monastery of Saint Catherine will be a radiant beacon calling the Churches to know one another better and to rediscover the importance in the eyes of God of the things that unite us in Christ.

      6. I am grateful to the many faithful from the Diocese of Ismayliah, led by Bishop Makarios, who have come to join me in this pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. The Successor of Peter thanks you for your steadfastness in faith. God bless you and your families!

      May the Monastery of Saint Catherine be a spiritual oasis for members of all the Churches in search of the glory of the Lord which settled on Mount Sinai (cf. Ex 24:16). The vision of this glory prompts us to cry out in overflowing joy: "We give thanks to you, O holy Father, for your holy name, which you have made to dwell in our hearts" (Didache, X). Amen.

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    Appreciation of man as an Image of God

        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 catechesis on Image of God as explained in My Catholic Faith. For part two in the 120th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 121: An Image of God part two

          As God said before creating man: "Let him have dominion over the beasts and the whole earth" (Genesis 1:26). Through his likeness to God, man has the power to know the true, the good, the beautiful, so far even as to know the Source of all truth, goodness and beauty, God Himself.

          We can prove that the soul of man is immortal, because man's acts of intelligence are spiritual; therefore, his soul must be a spiritual being, not dependent on matter, and hence not subject to decay or death. If even matter cannot totally disappear, howevr small the particle, how can the soul of man, of a far higher order, be thought to suffer extinction?

          Man has mind and will. He can reflect, reason, plan for the future, make judgments, remember. These prove his soul spiritual. Such a soul cannot die as the body does. Man longs for an ideal state of perfect happiness, such happiness as is impossible to attain on earth. This universal longing must have been placed in men's souls by God Himsself; it is a desire for the infinite happiness of a union with the Creator. If, therfore, man's soul were not immortal, he would have no chance to realize his dream of bliss, and God would be cruel in implanting the longing for it in his breast.

          There have been many instances of the dead appearing to the living. In the Gospel, Moses and Elias appeared on Mount Thabor to Christ and three of His Apostles. At Christ's death, many who were dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.

          The Blessed Virgin Mary has through the centuries continued to appear to men; such instances are almost innumerable. Saints have also returned to earth to comfort or instruct the living; even souls in purgatory have returned, to beg for prayers. We must, however, be very careful about believing in particular instances of appearances by the dead; the devil can and often does use this instrumentality to trick the gullible.

          Yes, belief in the immortality of the soul and a life after deathis universal among mankind, including the most primitive peoples. In the Bible are many instances of the belief of the Jews in another life, where the souos of the dead would be. For instance, one of their laws forbade holding intercourse with the dead. The Greeks and Romans believed in Tartarus and Elysium, places for the dead. Other nations have different cults to the dead, especially during their burial ceremonies. Such cults would be meaningless did those who took part in them not have have an idea of another life for departed souls.

          If the soul were not immortal, the wicked who commit evil all their lives would go unpunished. The just who suffer continually on earth would not receive any reward. This would be injustice impossible to the perfect justice of God. If even man, imperfect as he is, can see innumberable examples of injustice in life, could not God? Would He not have a way of correcting such injustice? And if so, since it cannot be corrected in this life, there must be another, where immortal souls go to obtain perfect justice.

          Holy Scripture, the Word of God, teaches that the soul is immortal. Our Lord Himself said to the good Thief, "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). "And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28). "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).

      Tomorrow: Adam and Eve: Our First Parents part one

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    Events that happened this Weekend in Church History

      On this date 1,532 years ago in 468 Pope Saint Hilary passed on to his Heavenly Reward. His seven year pontificate as the 46th successor of Peter was marked by his attention to the formation of the priesthood in determining what level of culture was needed in order for a young man to become a priest. He also declared that Popes and Bishops could not nominate their successors. In addition, he established the first apostolic vicariate in Spain. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

    Historical Events in Church Annals for February 29:

    • 468 A.D.
    • Death of Pope Saint Hilary, 46th successor of Peter. Born in Cagliari, Italy, Hilary's pontificate lasted seven years. In his political thought he followed his great predecessor Saint Leo the Great. He decided that a certain level of culture was needed in order to become a priest, and that Popes and Bishops should not nominate their successors.

    • 1468 A.D.
    • Birth of Alessandro Farnese in Canino, Italy. He would go on to become a prized student at Pisa, become treasurer for the Church, then cardinal-deacon before being selected Pope Paul III on October 13, 1534 as the 220th successor of Peter.

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    February 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

    NOTE: We respectfully recognize and accept the final authority regarding apparitions, locutions and prophecies presently being reported around the world rests with the Holy See of Rome and the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to whose judjment we humbly and obediently submit.

      "Dear children! Wake up from the sleep of unbelief and sin, because this is a time of grace which God gives you. Use this time and seek the grace of healing of your heart from God, so that you may see God and man with the heart. Pray in a special way for those who have not come to know God's love, and witness with your life so that they also can come to know God and His immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call."

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    February 29, 2000     volume 11, no. 42
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