MONDAY    January 31, 2000   vol. 11, no. 21   SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW on teaching Catholicism the right way
  • Appreciating the Precious Gift of our Faith: The Second Epistle of Saint John
  • COLLEGE OF CARDINALS series: Cardinal Friedrich Wetter
  • Medjugorje Monthly Message for January 25th

  • Anatomy of Catholic Education:
    Educating Catholics goes under the Xray for the X-factor is that those who teach must know and convey the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith!

       In his column today, Pat Ludwa, in recognizing Catholic Schools Week, wants to make sure all Catholic teachers - religious and lay, professional and volunteer - are in concert with Holy Mother Church for if they are not, a symphony becomes a cacaphony. This is what Our Lord warned of and which Pat reminds us that in looking back at the demise of solid catechetical teaching in the Church over the past thirty some years a cancer has been spreading that can only be eliminated by removing the deadly disease or it will corrupt the entire body. Whether mixing metaphors between musical and medical, one thing is for sure: harmony and teamwork must be ensured. For his column today, Spiritual Surgery , see VIEW FROM THE PEW

    Spiritual Surgery

          I recall a comedy skit done by Bill Cosby about getting his tonsils removed. He told how the doctor explained that his tonsils were like two guards in the back of his throat guarding his body from bad things trying to get in. But in his case, his tonsils weren't doing their jobs..."In fact, they've gone to over to the other side and we have to take them out to keep you healthy." A rather simplistic way of explaining the removal of a body part. In fact, cancer can be seen as simply part of our body going their own way and growing out of control. If it isn't removed, the body could die.


        "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as He chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Corinthians 12-26).

          What would happen to the body if the above occurred? It would cease to function, it would be 'at war' with itself. It would have a 'cancer'.

        "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell" (Matthew 5:29-30).

          Kind of harsh words, but it illustrates that we have to remove whatever isn't of God. Sure, we could, and should, try to 'cure' the malady, but when all efforts of a cure fail, sadly, what is often left is surgery to remove the illness. Throughout our history, the Church has tried to bring the truth to those who, for whatever reason, have strayed from the truth. Cutting them out of the body of the Church has never been easy. It's never been pleasant for the Church. It's among the hardest things the Church has to do. Consider the sadness Christ felt when His disciples left Him over His teaching of the Eucharist in John 6. But note also, that He didn't change His teaching to suit them. He didn't change it in the name of unity. Nor did He accept it in a false sense of diversity.

          If one had a world-renowned conductor directing their orchestra but one or more of the musicians, under the call of musical and academic freedom, decided not to play the music he was conducting, how would it sound? Would one go to listen to them? Would they remain musicians in that orchestra any longer? Or would they force the removal of the conductor for insisting that the music be played as written?

          The Church, like an orchestra, can't make up the music as it goes, but must rely, firstly, on the score written by the composer and secondly, the conductor's ability to coordinate the orchestra to make the music. If each musician feels they can go their own way, play their own music, they don't have music then, just noise. That orchestra would soon cease to exist. Likewise, a 'church' bent on doing whatever it pleased, without direction is not a church of direction, but confusion.

          If we were to have our children take music lessons, or if we wanted to learn how to play an instrument, wouldn't we seek out a teacher who knew how to play the instrument? How can one teach what they don't know? I may love music, but since I can't play an instrument or even read music, I would never even think of teaching music.

          If a 'Catholic teacher' doesn't believe or even follow what the Church teaches, how can we expect them to teach what it does teach? When Scott Hahn was a Presbyterian minister, he held 'non-denominational' Bible studies. The thing was, as he admits, they were anything but non-denominational. Through just human nature, he taught as he believed, which in this case, was as a Presbyterian minister. Likewise, a 'Catholic' who really doesn't believe or practice what the Church teaches can't really teach since they will actually end up teaching their beliefs instead of the Church's.

          It's human nature. On the one hand, we seek truth and direction in our lives, but if that we find that direction is a way we don't want to go, we rebel.

        "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15: 13-15).

          To lay down our life is more than just simply actually dying, but dying to what we want for the greater good. Not to do what we want, but what God wants. With all the sufferings and setbacks that come with it.

          G.K. Chesterton wrote that it isn't that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but tried and found difficult. It may be easier to play your own music, or let the cancer spread, it may even seem better. But the reality is that both are dead ends, leading nowhere.

        "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?" (Matthew 16: 24-26).

          The time may be sooner than many think, but the day is coming that the Church will have no choice but to remove the cancer infesting the Church today, it will have no choice but to remove the musicians who refuse to play the song.

          As one Vatican official said, schism is bad and should be avoided, but teaching heresy or apostasy is worse.

      Pax Christi, Pat

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    Pope illustrates the wonders and beauties of creation

       In 2000 we will be bringing you the Holy Father's words twice a week enabling us to bring you his weekly Wednesday Papal audiences on Mondays and his Sunday Angelus address on Thursdays. Today, we bring you the words from January 26th where His Holiness points out through Scriptural references that from the breath of God comes the Spirit that balances all creation so that their is cohesiveness in the universe. When we cooperate with this intent such as preserving nature, it becomes a partner with humanity as God intended. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    The void is only fulfilled through the Creator

    Dear Brothers and Sisters:

      1. "How desirable are all His works, and how sparkling they are to see! ... He has made nothing incomplete... Who could ever tire of seeing His glory? ... We could say more but could never say enough; let the final word be: 'He is the all.' Where can we find the strength to praise Him? For He is greater than all His works" (Sirach 42: 22, 24-25; 43:27-28).

          With these words full of awe, the biblical sage Sirach places himself before the splendor of creation, weaving the praises of God. It is a little piece of the thread of contemplation and meditation that runs throughout Sacred Scripture, beginning with the first lines of Genesis, when in the silence of nothingness creation blossoms, summoned by the effective Word of the Creator.

          "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gen 1:3). In this part of the first creation story we already see the action of the Word of God, of which John will say: "In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word was God... All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being" (John 1:1-3). Paul will confirm in the hymn of his Letter to the Colossians that "for in Him (Christ) all things in Heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations or rulers or powers -- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:16-17). But in the first moment of creation we also find concealed the Spirit: "the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). The glory of the Trinity, we can say with the Christian tradition, shines throughout creation.

      2. In fact, it is possible, in light of Revelation, to view the creative act as first of all appropriated to the "Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17). He shines across the entire horizon, as the Psalmist sings: "O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the Heavens" (Ps 8:1). By God, "the world is firmly established; it shall never be moved" (Ps 96:10). The Creator sets Himself over the void, figured symbolically by the chaotic waters that raise their voice; He gives them consistency and security: "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord!" (Ps 93:3-4).

      3. In Sacred Scripture creation is also often tied to the divine Word that breaks forth into action: "By the word of the Lord the Heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth... He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm... He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly" (Ps 33:6-9; 147:15). In Old Testament wisdom literature it is divine Wisdom personified in Whom the cosmos originates, and Who carries out the project of God's mind (cf Prov 8:22-31). It was said that John and Paul in the Word and in God's Wisdom would see the announcement of the work of Christ "through Whom are all things and through Whom we exist" (1 Cor 8:6), because it is "through whom He (God) also created the worlds" (Heb 1:2).

      4. Lastly, in other places Scripture highlights the role of the Spirit of God in the creative act: "When You send forth Your spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104:30). This same Spirit is symbolically figured in the breath of God's mouth. It gives life and consciousness to man (cf Gen 2:7) and brings him back to life in the resurrection, as the prophet Ezekiel announced in a suggestive text, where the Spirit is at work bringing back to life the bones now dry (cf 37:1-14). The same breath controls the sea's waters in Israel's exodus from Egypt (cf Ex 15:8-10). The Spirit still regenerates the human creature, as Jesus will say in His nocturnal dialogue with Nicodemus: "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of the water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn 3:5-6).

      5. Faced with the glory of the Trinity in creation, we must contemplate, sing, and rediscover awe. Contemporary society has become dry, "not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder" (G.K. Chesterton). Contemplation of the universe also means, for the believer, listening to a message, hearing a paradoxical and silent voice, as the "Psalm of the Sun" suggests: "The Heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Ps 19:2-4).

          Nature therefore becomes a Gospel that speaks to us of God: "For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13:5). Paul teaches us that "Ever since the creation of the world His (God's) eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made" (Rom 1:20). But this capacity for contemplation and knowledge, this discovery of a transcendent presence in creation, must also lead us also to rediscover our fraternity with the earth, to which we have been linked since creation (cf Gen 2:7). This very goal was foreshadowed by the Old Testament in the Hebrew Jubilee, when the earth rested and man gathered what the land spontaneously offered (cf Lv 25:11-12). If nature is not violated and humiliated, it returns to being the sister of humanity.

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    Appreciation of the First Epistle of Saint John the Apostle
       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, concentrating on the Books of the New Testament with today introducing John the Beloved Apostle's First Epistle. For the ninty-ninth installment, see


          That Saint John the Apostle, the author of the Fourth Gospel, is also the author of this Epistle is the verdict of historical evidence, both implicit and explicit, reaching as far back as Saint Polycarp. The internal evidence of the book itself is sufficiently strong; for the writer speaks with authority, as an Apostle would. Moreover, when the Epistle is compared with the Gospel of St. John, the resemblance both in thought and in expression is so striking that indetity of authorship is admitted by most commentators.

          From this close relation to the Fourth Gospel many commentators are of the opinion that the Epistle was written shortly before or shortly after the Gospel to serve s as introduction, or as a postscript, to it, or at least with the intention that both should be read together. Beyond this, there is nothing to indicate the time and place of its composition; but from this close connection we may say that it was written at Ephesus towards the close of the first century.

          The Apostle wrote this letter probably as a circular letter to the faithful of Asia Minor, to remind them of what he had written and preached concerning the Divinity of Christ, and thus to strengthen them against the heresies of the day. For it seems certain that, in the churches to which the letter is directed, there had risen false teachers and prophets-antichrists who denied that Jesus was the Messias, and Incarnate Son of God.

          The fundamental thought of the Epistle is this: God is made known to us in Jesus Christ, hence, fellowship with the Father is through the Son. There are three main currents of thought: (1) God is light (1, 5-2, 27) God is justice (2, 28-4,6) God is love (4, 7-5, 12).

          Hence, if we are to have fellowship with the Father through the Son, we must walk in light, in justice or holiness, and in love. Thus the Apostle calls those who deny that Jesus is the Christ and the Incarnate Son of God, liars and antichrists. He especially emphasizes the sublimity and excellence of love, the love of God finding expression in brotherly love. The Apostle further shows how to distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil; he described the baseness and gravity of sin; and finally, he shows how the sinner may hope for pardon.

      Tomorrow: The Second Epistle of St. John

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    Cardinal Friedrich Wetter is the man who succeeded Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Archbishop of Munich

       We continue with this special series introducing you to the Princes of the Church. Our one-hundred-fifty-second red-hat we feature, in alphabetical order is nearly 72 year-old Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the German-born Archbishop of Munich and Freising who has served as shepherd there since 1982. He was elevated to the cardinalate during the Consistory of May 25, 1985 by Pope John Paul II. For more on Cardinal Wetter, see COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION

    152.   Cardinal Friedrich Wetter

          Cardinal Friedrich Wetter was born in Landau, Germany on February 20, 1928. His father worked for the railroad in Germany and wanted young Friedrich to follow in his footsteps but the son had other ideas and entered the minor and then major seminary in the Diocese of Speyer before obtaining a Theology degree from the Gregorian in Rome. He became a priest on October 10, 1954 and after more studies and some pastoral work, he was assigned to the faculty of Eichstatt Univiversity teaching Fudamental Theology in 1962. Five years later he was transferred to the University of Mainz to head up the Dogmatic Theology Department. The following year Pope Paul VI made him a bishop on May 28, 1968, assigning him as Bishop of Speyer, his home diocese. He was ordained and installed on June 29, 1968.

          On October 28, 1982 Pope John Paul II appointed him the new Archbishop of Munich and Freising because his predecessor had been called to Rome to become the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That was of course Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who has since entrenched himself as the most powerful and influential member of the Curia. Three years after becoming shepherd of his new see, Archbishop Wetter received an even higher honor - the cardinalate. This occurred during the Holy Father's Consistory of May 25, 1985 where he received the titular church of St. Stephen al Monte Celio. He has been president of the Commission for the Faith in the German Bishops' Conference and serves membership in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Congregation for Catholic Education. He is expected to finish out his episcopate in Munich where he resides at Kardinal-Faulhaber Str., 7, D-8000 Munchen 2, Bundesrepublik, Germany.

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    January 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! I call you, little children, to pray without ceasing. If you pray, you are closer to God and He will lead you on the way of peace and salvation. That is why I call you today to give peace to others. Only in God is there true peace. Open your hearts and become those who give a gift of peace and others will discover peace in you and through you and in this way you will witness God's peace and love which He gives you. Thank you for having responded to my call."

    For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE

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    January 31, 2000     volume 11, no. 21
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