THURSDAY     March 16, 2000    vol. 11, no. 54    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • 2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER - Installment 40
  • Events that occurred this day in Church History
  • Daily LITURGY

  • The end of the medieval papacy ushers in a glorious new era - the "century of the saints"

        Today, in our on-going series of this abridged History of the Mass and Holy Mother Church over a 2000 year span called 2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER, we illustrate the Pope and times that laid the foundation for the "century of the saints" which the 13th century was famous for. The Sovereign Pontiff was Pope Innocent III who we covered briefly in his dealings with the Crusades in the last installment. This time we feature him more prominently for he is the one who brought the Church into this "century of the saints" and made it possible for such holy luminaries as Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic, to name a few, to establish a missionary endeavor that has forever served the Church well through the fruits of these saints and the Pontiff who first recognized their gifts and God's Will. For Installment forty - The century of saints dawns during the pontificate of Pope Innocent III, see BARQUE OF PETER

    Installment 40: The century of saints dawns during the pontificate of Pope Innocent III
    Next Wednesday: Installment Forty-one: The saints make their mark.

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    Holy Father conveys necessity for cleansing through reconciliation with God and man in order to be "credible witnesses of Hope"

       Today we bring you the Holy Father's Angelus from this past Sunday where the Holy Father addressed the multitudes in St. Peter's Square immediately after his unprecedented and historic Mea Culpa in St. Peter's Basilica during his Papal Mass. In his address he reiterated the necessity and sincerity in this universal pardon and reemphasized that it in no way impugns those Church members who have preceded us but is a cleansing process before God in order to allow all Catholics to clear their consciences and proceed in this new millennium as "credible witnesses of Hope." Because the Pope is on his annual Lenten Papal Retreat, he did not have his regular Wednesday Papal Audience. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    The Holy Father's Sunday Angelus Address from Sunday, March 12, 2000

      Dear Brothers and Sisters!

      1. Today we have celebrated the Day of Forgiveness in the framework of faith of the Great Jubilee. This morning in St. Peter's Basilica, I presided over a moving and solemn penitential act. On this first Sunday of Lent, in the name of all the Christian people, Bishops and ecclesial communities in different parts of the world have knelt before God to implore his forgiveness.

          The Holy Year is a time of purification: The Church is Holy because Christ is her Head and Spouse, the Spirit her vivifying soul and the Blessed Virgin and the saints her most authentic expression. However, the children of the Church know the reality of sin, whose shadows are reflected in her, darkening her beauty. For this reason, the Church does not cease to implore God's forgiveness for the sins of her members.

      2. This is not a judgment on the subjective responsibility of brothers who preceded us: this is something that corresponds only to God Who, unlike us human beings, is capable of "scrutinizing the heart and mind." Today's act is a sincere acknowledgement of the faults committed by the children of the Church in the remote and recent past, and a humble supplication for God's forgiveness. This will undoubtedly awaken consciences, enabling Christians to enter the third millennium more open to God and his plan of love.

          As we ask for forgiveness, we forgive. This is what we say every day when we pray the prayer Christ taught us: "Our Father... forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." May this Jubilee Day bring all believers the fruit of reciprocal forgiveness given and received!

          From forgiveness reconciliation flowers. This is what we desire for the whole ecclesial community, for the ensemble of all believers in Christ, and for the whole world.

      3. Forgiven and ready to forgive, Christians enter the third millennium as more credible witnesses of hope. After centuries characterized by violence and destruction, and after this particularly dramatic one, the Church presents to humanity, which crosses the threshold of the third millennium, the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation, as the premise to construct an authentic peace.

          Be witnesses of hope! This is also the theme of the Spiritual Exercises that I will begin this afternoon with my collaborators in the Roman Curia. Beginning now, I thank those who will accompany me in these days of prayer and I invoke the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Divine Mercy, to help all of us to live fruitfully the time of Lent.

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    Appreciation of God's gift of Christ's Redemption and His Church to guide us in trying to avoid Venial Sin

        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 Venial sin, one that weakens us and eats away at sanctifying grace, making us sad and prey for satan to pounce in trying to drag us into mortal sin. This sin, while somewhat grievous still allows us to partake in the Sacraments and is pardonable through absolution, a good Act of Contrition, true penitence and good works. For part two in the 132nd installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 132: Venial Sin part two

          Venial sin harms us by making us less fervent in the service of God, by weakening our power to resist mortal sin, and by making us deserving of God's punishments in this life or in Purgatory.

          Although venial sin is not a grievous offense against God, it is nevertheless a great moral evil, next alone to mortal sin. It is like a drop of ink in a glassful of clear water; the ink, however little, takes away the clearness.

          If often committed, venial sin weakens the will, lessens our power to resist evil, and makes it easier for us to fall into mortal sin. "He that condemneth small things shall fall by little and little" (Ecclesiastes 19:1). "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in a very little thing is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10). A great fire is started by a tiny breeze. Venial sin, by weakening the will, makes up indisposed for good, and lukewarm in God's service.

          Venial sin deprives us of many actual graces we need for resisting temptation. When a mirror is dusty, it cannot reflect the image clearly; similarly the mirror of the soul, when dusty with venial sin, cannot reflect the light of grace and justice. God will not bestow his blessings and graces on one whose soul is disfigured by venial sin, as a distinguished personage is not expected to embrace a man who is disfigured by a skin disease.

          Venial sin deprives us of Heaven for a time. If we die with venial sins on our souls, or without fully satisfying for them, we have to expiate for them in Purgatory. A great desire not to offend God in the least is the best proof of love and loyalty towards our Heavenly Father.

          Holy Scripture shows many instances of God's hatred for venial sin, which He punishes severely even on earth. For her curiosity, Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt. "But I tell you, that of every idle word men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).

          We can keep from committing sin by praying and by receiving the sacraments; by remembering that God is always with us; by recalling that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit; by keeping occupied with work or play; by promptly resisting the sources of sin within us; by avoiding the near occasions of sin.

          Prayer and the sacraments protect us from sin. They are like a strong fortress against which the enemy strikes in vain, and within which the soul remains safe in the grace of God. When the Apostles were in danger on the Lake of Genessareth, they had recourse to prayer. We are ever in danger from sin while we live; let us build up around us a rampart of prayer. God will protect us, as He protected the Apostles; He will answer our prayer. The soul nourished by the sacraments is strong, and will not easily succumb to sin; as a healthy body does not easily succumb to disease.

          Even good people fall into sins, frequently because they forget God's presence. Let us remember that the eye of God is always upon us, every single moment. Then, if we love Him, we would never sin, never insult His presence by sin. If we had a distinguished personage before us, would we commit indecent acts? Would we steal, or use bad language? But is not God the most distinguished of all persons, and is He not always looking on us?

          When we are in the state of grace, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells in it as Jesus Christ lives in the tabernacle. If we remember this always, we shall be greatly helped in avoiding sin.

          The most practical way of avoiding sin is to keep occupied with work or play. Man must do something; if he does not do something good, he will do something evil. A busy instrument cannot be used in doing mischief. Robbers will hesitate to enter a house where the occupants are busy. If we are occupied in doing good, we have no time to sit idly and wag our tongues in gossip. In other words, idleness is the devil's workshop.

      Tomorrow: Occasions and Sources of Sin part one

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    Events that happened today in Church History

       On this day two years ago the Vatican published the document "We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoa" which was the Church's way of saying they commiserate with the Jewish people for the terrible treatment delivered on the children of the Covenant and any lack of Christian spiritual or corporal help during those trying times. Yet many radical Jewish factions wanted more blood and expected the Vatican to admit all-out guilt when, in truth, she was one of the Jews' strongest empathizers. Despite this sensitive document, many liberal Jews called for the head of Pope Pius XII. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

    Historical Events in Church Annals for March 16:

    • 1037 A.D.
    • Death of Saint Heribert, abbot . Canonized by Pope Gregory VII in 1074.

    • 1494 A.D.
    • The Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I marries Bianca Sforza, the daughter of Italian powerbroker Francesco Sforza

    • 1517 A.D.
    • Close of the Fifth Lateran Council by Pope Leo X where the Council Fathers declared nul and void the Council of Pisa. Events in the aftermath of this council and Leo's actions led to Martin Luther's revolt.

    • 1521 A.D.
    • Ferdinand Magellan discovers the Philippines and declares them for Portugal and Holy Mother Church. The faith has remained strong in these islands on the northern edge of Oceania.

    • 1561 A.D.
    • Martyrdom of Jesuit missionaries in East Africa.

    • 1998 A.D.
    • The Vatican releases the long-awaited document "We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah" that is still under scrutiny by radical Jewish factions who insist on placing the blame of the Holocaust on the Catholic Church because they assumed the Holy See and Catholic people didn't do enough when, in truth, it was the Catholic Church who not only stood with the Jews in the concentration camps, but clandestinely stole many a member of the Covenant out of harm's way by hiding them from the Nazis.

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       Today and tomorrow we observe the Lenten liturgy with tomorrow's Optional Feast of Saint Patrick of Ireland, Bishop and Apostle of the Emerald Isle. Though it is optional, the majority of the parishes across the country will celebrate this feast with many bishops giving a dispensation from meat on this day of cornbeef and cabbage. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and profile on Saint Patrick, see DAILY LITURGY.

    Thursday, March 16, 2000

        First Reading: Esther: 12, 14-16, 23-25
        Responsorial: Psalm 138: 1-3, 7-8
        Gospel Reading: Matthew 7: 7-12

    Friday, March 17, 2000

      Friday March 17:
      Friday in Lent
      Optional Feast of Saint Patrick of Ireland, Bishop and Apostle of Ireland

      Purple vestments

        First Reading: Ezechial 18: 21-28
        Responsorial: Psalm 130: 1-8
        Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 20-26

    Feast of Saint Patrick, Bishop and Apostle of Ireland

         Though the Season of Lent often preempts this patron saint of Ireland, he is credited with bringing the emerald isle to Catholicism. Born of Roman and Scottish origin, Patrick was sold into bondage and brought to Ireland in the early 400's. His experiences prompted him to always turn to God for intercession and it was this faith that motivated him toward becoming an apostle for Christ in this land he grew to love. His piety and wisdom, as well as his genuine love and caring for the Celtic people, produced mass conversions throughout Irish soil. He is often depicted holding the Church in his hands as well as a shamrock which he used to explain the Blessed Trinity as having three leaves but one plant. He is also shown driving out the snakes. Though history does not record reptiles being on the island, it represents bringing the Gospel to Ireland and driving away the evil spirits of paganism. His holy work spawned generation upon generations of priests and nuns and holy, practicing Catholics up to our present century which are responsible for so many conversions the world-over, especially in America.

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    March 16, 2000     volume 11, no. 54
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