FRI-SAT-SUN     March 3-5, 2000    vol. 11, no. 45    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial
  • THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS - Wednesday Audience
  • Sr. Mary Lucty Astuto's column GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

  • Decisions that can mold the future welfare of America and the Church!

      In this weekend's editorial, we look back on the news of this past week and see there's a new opportunity on the horizon that can bode quite well for loyal Catholics, but we can't be complacent or the opportunity will pass us by: opportunity to vote for the right pro-life candidates and initiatives, and the opportunity to stop the runaway radical rubrics that have permeated so many parishes, liturgical celebrations that in no way resemble the Catholic liturgy that Rome has determined should be the universal rubrics for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With the most recent Symposium in Rome the Holy See is ready to crack down on violators in adhering to the true tenets of Vatican II. In addition, we should rejoice at Israel's release of a diary that completely exonerates Pope Pius XII of the trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism by radicals intent on besmirching his good name. Now we can get on with his beatification process. For this weekend's editorial Let's make it a Mardi Gras to remember: Get out and vote for the Sanctity of Life! , see CATHOLIC PewPOINT

    Let's make it a Mardi Gras to remember: Get out and vote for the Sanctity of Life!

    Michael Cain, editor

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    Holy Father looks back and looks ahead during weekly Papal Audience

      Today we bring you a special edition of the VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS with the Holy Father's weekly message from his Papal Audience this past Wednesday in which he spoke of the "culminating" point of his trip to Egypt, reflecting on the spiritual "high" of his time on Mount Sinai and in looking ahead to a visit to another mountain - the Mount of Beatitudes in the Holy Land which he will undertake in three weeks. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    The Holy Father's Wednesday Papal Audience for March 1, 2000

      Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

      1. With great joy I was able to go on a pilgrimage last week to Egypt, in the footsteps of Moses. This extraordinary experience culminated with the stop at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Holy Mountain: holy because in it God was revealed to his servant Moses and made manifest his Name to Moses; holy, moreover, because there God gave to his people the gift of the Law, the Ten Commandments; holy, finally, because the constant presence there of believers made Mount Sinai a place of prayer.

          I am grateful to God for His having allowed me to stop in prayer in the place where He introduced Moses to a more clear understanding of his mystery, speaking to him from the Burning Bush, and where he offered to Moses and the chosen people the Law of the Covenant, that is, the law of life and of freedom for everyone. God made himself the foundation and guarantee of this covenant.

      2. As I mentioned last Saturday, the Ten Commandments open before us the only authentically human future, because they are not the arbitrary imposition of a tyrannical God. Yahweh wrote them in stone, but he inscribed them above all in the human heart as the universal moral law, valid and current in every place and time. This law prevents egotism and hatred, lying and contempt, which destroy the human person. The Ten Commandments, with their constant recalling of the divine Covenant, show that the Lord is our only God, and that every other divinity is false and ends up reducing the human being to slavery, making him degrade his own human dignity.

          "Hear, O Israel... You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children..." (Dt 6:4-7). These words, which the pious Hebrew repeats daily, also resounds in the heart of every Christian. "Listen! Fix these precepts in your heart!" We cannot think of being faithful to God without observing his Law. Besides, to be faithful to God is to be faithful to ourselves, to our profound and unsupressible aspirations.

      3. I am grateful to Archbishop Damianos, Ecumenicos of St. Catherinešs Monastery, and to his monks for the great cordiality with which they welcomed me. The Archbishop, who met me at the entrance of the Monastery, showed me the precious "Biblical relics" kept there, such as Jethro's Well, and above all the roots of the "Burning Bush," next to which I knelt, thinking over the words with which God revealed the mystery of his being to Moses: "I am who am." I was also able to admire the stupendous works of art there, which flourished in the course of centuries of monastic contemplation and prayer.

          Before the celebration of the Word, Archbishop Damianos recalled that, right above us rose Mount Horeb, with the summit of Sinai, the mountaintop of the Decalogue, in which "in fire and obscurity" God spoke to Moses. For centuries in this context a monastic community pursued the ideal of Christian perfection in "a constant compulsion of nature and an indefatigable control of the senses," availing itself of the traditional means of spiritual dialogue and ascetic practice. At the end of this meeting, the Archbishop and some of his monks kindly accompanied me to the airport.

      4. I willingly take this opportunity to once again express my thanks to Present Mubarak, to the Egyptian authorities and to those who contributed to the realization of my trip. Egypt is the cradle of a very ancient civilization. The Christian faith has been there since the time of the apostles, especially with St. Mark, disciple of Peter and Paul and founder of the Church in Alexandria.

          During the pilgrimage I met with His Holiness Patriarch Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and with Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, Great Sheik of Al-Azhar and religious head of the Muslim community. To them I express my gratitude, which extends also to His Beatitude Stephanos II Ghattas, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholics, and to the other Archbishops and Bishops present.

          Renewing my salutations to the small but fervent Catholic community that I met during the solemn celebration of the Holy Mass in Cairo, in which all the Catholic churches of Egypt participated: the Coptics, the Latins, the Maronites, the Greeks, the Armenians, the Syriacs, and the Chaldeans. Within the Lord's Supper we celebrated our common faith and appealed to God the enthusiasm of life and of apostolate of our Egyptian brothers and sisters, who with many sacrifices and much generosity witnessed to their faithful adherence to the Gospel in the country in which the Holy Family took refuge two thousand years ago.

          I retain a grateful memory of that significant meeting with representatives and faithful of the Churches and non-Catholic ecclesiastical communities present in Egypt. The ecumenical progress that, thanks to the Holy Spirit, was made during the twentieth century can enjoy further developments which bring us ever closer to the goal of full unity, for which the Lord Jesus ardently prayed.

      5. Today, Mount Sinai makes me think of another mount which, God willing, I will have the joy to visit at the end of this month: the Mount of the Beatitudes in Galilee. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the Old Law, but to perfect it (cf Mt 5:17). In fact, from the time the Word of God took flesh and died on the cross for us, we hear the Ten Commandments through his voice. Jesus makes the Ten Commandments take root in the hearts of those who believe in Him by means of the new life of grace. However, Jesus' disciples did not feel oppressed by a multitude of prescriptions, but, compelled by the force of love, they recognized God's Commandments as a law of freedom: freedom to love, thanks to the interior action of the Spirit.

          The Beatitudes constitute the evangelical completion of the Law of Sinai. The Covenant, drawn up with the Hebrew people, found its perfection in the new and eternal Covenant ratified in the blood of Christ. Christ is the New Law, and in Him salvation is offered to all people.

          To Christ Jesus I entrust the next stop of my jubilee pilgrimage: the Holy Land. I ask you all to accompany me with prayer in preparation, especially spiritual, for this important event.

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    It's time to prepare for Lent in a small way that will produce big results

       In her column this week, Sister Mary Lucy Astuto sets her sights on Lent and shares with the readers ways we can all make this a meaningful 40 days of fasting and prayer. She emphasizes that the greatest offering we can give is by daily participation in the greatest of prayers - the greatest offering we can give - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She also points out that we can make it a grace-filled, fruitful Lent by doing whatever we do to the best of our ability in small ways in patterning our behavior after the ideal example of humility and simplicity - Saint Therese of the Child Jesus who was known for doing the ordinary in an extraordinary way, something we can all strive to do For her column, Doing everyday duties well see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER


          Lent will be here soon. It is time for us to consider what Lenten practices we shall observe. Scripture advises three categories: prayer, penance, and almsgiving.

          Attending Mass more frequently is the greatest act of worship. It is wonderful to see an increased number of Catholics going to daily Mass during Lent. This includes business people who use part of their lunch hour to attend Mass.

          Other suggestions may include: daily rosary individually or as a family; praying before Our Eucharistic Lord on hour a week; making the Stations of the Cross every day or at least once a week; daily spiritual reading that leads us to talk to God from our hearts; going to confession every couple of weeks; meditating on Our Lord's Passion for 10 - 15 minutes a day; studying Scripture with family, friends and neighbors.

          Almsgiving can certainly include: working at a local shelter to help feed or clothe the poor; donating monetarily to charitable causes; donating blood to the Red Cross; visiting those who are sick or elderly; spending time with someone who is hurting through the loss of a child or spouse; giving some of your clothes to the poor.

          When we think of doing penance for Lent, the usual comes to mind, i.e., giving up candy, gum, and movies. Other ideas may include: giving up smoking, drinking, watching television, deserts; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; being prompt for appointments; doing our work with extra attention; cleaning out the garage or attic; giving more of your time by becoming more active in the pro-life movement. It has been said that one of the best things we can give others is our time.

          When Our Lady of Fatima appeared in Portugal in 1917 and asked for prayers and penance, one of her suggestions was that we do our daily duties well. Doing everything we do during the day as we should do them, can be a great penance. Getting up on time; not wasting time; being patient with the kids (and spouse); keeping the house neat and clean; not gossiping; ceasing to be an enabler; being courteous in traffic; holding a door for a person following you; praying before and after meals; being pleasant when one doesn't feel like it. (The latter, by the way, is not being a hypocrite. It is acting as a Christian should.)

          In reality, we can become great saints simply by doing our ordinary daily duties well. This is the whole spiritual message of St. Therese, the Little Flower. This was her "Little Way."

          I hope I've been able to give you some food for thought, dear reader. Certainly, all possibilities are not exhausted here, but perhaps this article has given you a few ideas. It is time to begin thinking about how we shall make this Lent a truly "Catholic" one.

          You are in my heart and prayers. I ask to be in yours, as well.

          God bless you!

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    March 3-5, 2000     volume 11, no. 45
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