Monday thru Friday on the
CATHOLIC-INTERNET NETWORK at
See why so many consider the
Daily CATHOLIC as the
"USA Today for CATHOLICS!"
December 4-6, 1998
SECTION TWO vol 9, no. 236
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE
LITURGY FOR THE WEEKEND
This weekend we celebrate the FIRST FRIDAY and FIRST SATURDAY of Advent and of the month. Friday is also the feast of a little-known Doctor of the Church Saint John of Damascus while Monday is the Feast of a much more well-known Doctor of the Church, the esteemed bishop Saint Ambrose. In between we observe the SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT which supersedes the traditional Feast of Saint Nicholas - the Christian precursor to our modern concept of "Santa Claus." For the liturgies, readings, meditations and vignettes on the above feasts for this time period, click on LITURGY
Friday, December 4, 1998
Friday December 4:
First Friday of Advent
Feast of Saint John of Damascus, priest, religious and Doctor of the Church
Violet or White vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 29: 17-24
Psalms: Psalm 27: 1, 4, 13-14
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 27-31
December 4: SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church
In the year 675 as Mohammedanism was making its mark in the Holy Land, Saint John of Damascus was born into a wealthy Christian-Arab family. His mother was Catholic, his father Mansur a Moslem. Though John spent all his life under Mohammedan rule, he never wavered from the True Faith which was taught to him by a wise monk named Cosmas, a slave bought by John's father during a Moslem raid in Sicily. When John's father died, his inheritance included the position of chief revenue officer and counselor of the Caliph, the Mohammedan leader who was then Abdul Malek. In the early 700's the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Isaurian released a decree condemning the veneration of images. John knew it was a direct assault on Catholicism and he refuted all the Emperor had decreed which naturally drew the wrath of the Byzantine rulers who wanted to silence him, but they were prevented because John was under the Caliph's protection and rule. A year later, largely through the influence of Cosmas, he resigned the prestigious position of finance officer and became a monk at St. Sabas on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Even though Leo's successor, the Emperor Constantine Copronymus denounced John at a false synod he convened in Constantinople, the Patriarch John V still ordained John in 726. Now a priest, John returned to the monastery in Jerusalem to lead the defenders of the orthodox Catholic faith against the iconoclast movement of the Byzantine regime. Known as both a poet and theologian, John wrote his famous The Fount of Knowledge, translated into Latin with the title De Fide Orthodoxa. It had the most profound effect on theology for centuries. Teaming up with John V and Pope Gregory II, he defended the faith and the right to use images and icons of Our Lord, Our Lady and the saints with the beautiful rationale, "It is not the material that we honor but what it represents: the honor paid to images goes to the one who is represented by the image." He wrote countless works including poems still used in the Greek liturgy. The Greeks called him "Chrysoorhoas" which meant "pouring forth gold" since his words were a treasure so profound to those who heard them. John's peaceful death at the monastery at St. Sabas on December 4, 749 marked the end of the Greek Fathers of the Church. On the same date in 1890 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed John of Damascus a Doctor of the Church adding his feast to the Roman Calendar.
Saturday, December 5, 1998
First Reading: Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26
Psalms: Psalm 147: 1-6
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 35-38; 10: 1, 6-8
SUNDAY, December 6, 1998
First Reading: Isaiah 11: 1-10
Psalms: Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Second Reading: Romans 15: 4-9
Gospel Reading: Matthew 3: 1-12
Even though the Second Sunday of Advent supersedes his feast, December 6th is also the Feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop:
December 6: SAINT NICHOLAS, Bishop
The universal popularity of Saint Nicholas in both the Eastern Church, the Western Church and in secular circles has contributed to the legend of this saint. All we really know about him is that he was born of wealthy parents near Patara in Lycia part of Asia Minor. He was named bishop of Myra, which was a diocese in decline, but his holiness, zeal and accounts of miracles transformed the diocese into one of great faith. As bishop, he was among those who signed the doctrine affirming Jesus Christ's Divinity at the Council of Nicea in 325. Nicholas used his well-endowed inheritance from his deceased parents for the Church, aiding the poor. One legend, which spawned the concept of Santa Claus relates that there were three very poor sisters whose father, in order to make ends meet for the family, was about to turn them into prostitutes so he could also afford their future dowries. Nicholas, hearing of this, tossed a bag of gold into their house through a window on three different occasions, thus preserving them from a life of sin. The repentant father, discovering it was Nicholas, later fell at his feet in gratitude saying, "You are my helper. You have delivered my soul and my daughters' from hell." On another occasion, unable to personally reach the Emperor Constantine, through prayer he appeared in a dream to the Emperor informing the ruler that the three imperial officers he was going to put to death for treason, were innocent. Upon awakening, Constantine freed them immediately. Nicholas destroyed pagan temples and even managed to get a governor to admit publicly that he was condemning three innocent men because he had been bribed. The men were set free and the governor deposed. During the tyrannical rule of the Emperor Diocletian he was incarcerated for his faith along with many other Christians. There he was tortured and died around the age of 65 in the middle of the 4th Century. Nicholas had always been renowned for his charitable works toward poor children and, after his death the legend grew enormously. When the faith was brought to Northern Germany, so also were the tales of St. Nicholas who took on the folklore of "Weihnachtsmann", German for "the man of Christmas Eve. His popularity increased in the 11th Century when his relics were transfered from Myra to Bari in Italy. His shrine in this Adriatic coastal town became one of the most beloved of the Medieval times, visited by many crusaders who brought the legend back to various parts of Europe. The practice of giving gifts and sweets to children on the eve before the Christ Child's birth grew both from a secular standpoint as well as a religious one, for the adults spent much time in Church at Christmas with extensive ceremonies and if the children had something to keep them occupied, it made it easier on everyone. In Holland St. Nicholas became Sint Klaes which was soon translated into Santa Claus since the German name for Nicholas is Klaus. The image of Santa Claus however was taken from the pagan god Thor and associated with winter and the Yule log. They depicted him riding on a chariot led by two goats whose names were Cracker and Gnasher. It wasn't long before this translated into reindeer and the rest, as we know, is commercialism. St. Nicholas Day is still celebrated in Europe to this day with sweets placed in the shoes of children the night before. St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of Greece, Sicily, Lorraine in France and Apulia, not to mention the universal patron of children everywhere. His popularity can be attested in the fact there are thousands of churches named in his honor throughout Europe.
Monday, December 7, 1998
Monday December 7:
Feast of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
First Reading: Isaiah 35: 1-10
Psalms: Psalm 85: 9-14 and Isaiah 35: 4
Gospel Reading: Luke 5: 17-26
December 7: SAINT AMBROSE, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
This Doctor of the Church was born in 340 in Trier, Germany and rose swiftly through the secular ranks as the son of a praetorian prefect of Gaul. When his father died, he was taken to Rome where he was afforded the best education and soon became a renowned oratorian and was sent to Milan. There he began to be exposed to Christianity and plunged in to studying the faith. But before he could be baptized the bishop died and a bitter struggle broke out between Catholics and Arians for control of the bishopric. When Ambrose sought to mediate the fracas, his golden voice prompted the people to unanimously elect him Bishop of Milan even though he was not ordained, let alone baptized. Though he refused at first, the Emperor adhered to the vox populi and enforced the election. Thus he was baptized on this day in 374 and consecrated a bishop the same day at the age of 34. He took his position seriously and his golden voice converted countless souls to the faith as he became one of the staunchest defenders of the faith against Arianism. As the great Roman Empire began to crumble, Ambrose built from these decaying ruins hope for the Church through his dedication to Christ and His teachings. Despite insidious politics between the emperors of East and West, and the threat of Arianism and paganism, Ambrose persevered and, through his leadership and example, paganism was defeated and Christianity rose to new heights after three centuries of persecution. Ambrose, an exemplary example of what a bishop should be, is best known as the man who brought Saint Augustine back to the faith and baptized him. Ambrose died in Milan on April 4, 397 ten years after welcoming Augustine into the Mystical Body of Christ.
PRAYER & DEVOTIONS
For the special Novena Prayers for Friday, Saturday and Sunday for this time of preparation during Advent, click on ADVENT
ADVENT NOVENA PRAYER
O Triune Divinity, we come to you through the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin, and St. Joseph, her chaste, holy spouse. In this season of Advent we desire to obtain the grace of purity of intention, that through our obedience to Your Heavenly Will, we, too, can transform our poor, miserable lives into the resplendent stable at Bethlehem where You Only-begotten Son was born.
Through the intercession of Mary, and all the hosts of Heaven, we beseech You, through the merits gained for us by Jesus Christ, Your Only-begotten Son, to help us convert our hearts, to live the messages of Your Mother, and to ardently beseech You to bring about the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart now, that the Reign of the Sacred Heart might be upon the world.
Heavenly Father, we trust in Your goodness and beseech You to hear us, not because of our worthiness, but because of our willingness to be Your little children who kneel in adoration to their God. Come, let us adore Him!
PRAYER for December 4: First Friday of Advent
Heavenly Mother, today we ask you to remember all the things of our lower human ego, our lower human passions, which are a hindrance to us in our spiritual life. Today we ask you to intercede for us that we may recognize our weakness in regard to our intelligence. Let us be mindful of this great gift which is from God, and to order our thoughts so to think only of Him, for Him, and with Him, according to His Will, not our own.
PRAYER for December 5: First Saturday of Advent
St. Joseph, we beseech you, in this season of Advent, to help us prepare more properly for the Coming of Jesus Christ. You believed, St. Joseph, in the Divine Birth and in the virginity of Mary, your holy spouse. You watched in awe as the pregnancy came to full term, and thanked God for the privilege given to you, to be the guardian of Mary and of Jesus. Help us to overcome our lack of faith, that we too might learn to seek Him in all things.
PRAYER for December 6: Second Sunday of Advent
Heavenly angels and saints, you look down upon us in our earthly journey, this place of sorrow, and recognize what we are still striving to see - the Divinity of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior. We beseech you to help us to raise our hearts to Heaven, where they might be touched by Divine Love. Then, aflame with love, may we work ceaselessly to prepare not only our own hearts, but our whole world to proclaim Jesus as King and Messiah.
NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant
provided by Catholic World News Service
Vatican to Israel: Enough already! All has been made known in the archives regarding the holocaust! It's time to move on!
The Vatican is exhausted from the constant barbs from Israel and Jewish interests who demand the Vatican open all the archives regarding the holocaust. Thursday the Holy See curtly responded with the facts that all archives have been exhausted regarding this and it's time to accept it and move on. In an attempt to put closure to this incendiary issue which the media has muddled so, the director of the Vatican press office Monsignor Joaquin Navarro-Valls challenged anyone to show proof that the Vatican has not produced the said archives. Basically he was telling them that what they are looking for doesn't exist and you cannot squeeze blood from a turnip. Whether the Israelis and media will accept that remains to be seen as both of those entities seek to lay the blame on someone, anyone they can. For more, click on Vatican response.
VATICAN SAYS ALL ARCHIVES ON HOLOCAUST HAVE BEEN OPENED
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In a sharp new public statement today,
the Holy See insisted that all material in the Vatican archives
regarding the Holocaust has already been made public, and
challenging critics to provide evidence that anything has been held
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, told
reporters that the statement was a response to "accusations raised
during the past several days against the Holy See." Some such
accusations have been aired at a conference on the Holocaust hosted
by the US Department of State.
Navarro-Valls pointed out that the Vatican has released all archival
material pertaining to the Holocaust. He added: "Anyone who makes
insinuations contrary to what the Holy See has already repeated
several times should have some concrete evidence-- which,
naturally, will not be forthcoming."
Today's statement noted that an international group of historians had
searched the Vatican archives at the request of Pope Paul VI, and
produced an 11-volume work covering the years 1939- 1945. "This
monumental work is universally recognized by historians as a
fundamental contribution to the study of that period," the statement
noted. Moreover, a recent history of Pope Pius XII incorporated
another full volume of archival material.
Citing this "exhaustive" published record, Navarro-Valls insisted that
"nothing-- I repeat, nothing" more can be found in the Vatican
Similarly, the Vatican spokesman said, the archives contain no more
evidence regarding the gold stolen by Nazis from Croatia. Pointing to
"the absences of documents relative to that subject," Navarro-Valls
concluded that the Vatican was not involved in any transfer of that
stolen gold. He pointed out that Vatican experts participated in a
scholarly session last year, trying to trace the path of the stolen gold,
and the results were inconclusive.
Senate could be backtracking on fetal-tissue ban, but bishops standing firm
The scientists are at it again. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. Such is the case in their appeal to the US Senate this past week when they asked the congressmen to relax the ban on fetal-tissue. They claim that they need the fetal-tissue of a newly-aborted baby to further their research into finding cures for such common illnesses as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson Disease to name a few. While they are pushing to save lives through these findings, they are promoting the idea of destroying lives with more abortions and the bishops won't have any of the doublespeak even though some senators are trying to rationalize that an exception can be made because of the nomenclature "organism" even though it raises even more ethical concerns. For more, click on Fetal-tissue ban
US SENATE PONDERS CHANGING FETAL TISSUE BAN
WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - Researchers and scientists
told a US Senate subcommittee on Wednesday that a ban on
the use of fetal tissue in research is slowing the
development of more effective treatments for heart disease,
diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders.
But an expert from the US bishops' conference's pro-life
office told the Senators that the methods used to collect
the cells raise ethical concerns. Richard M. Doerflinger
said that researchers isolate the necessary stem cells by
either destroying a living unborn child, collecting cells
from a newly aborted unborn child, or implanting human
genes into a cow's egg.
"Each system arouses ethical concerns," said Doerflinger.
"These are the type of experiments that the federal ban"
applies to, he said. "You could rip my heart out of my body
and it would not be an organism," he added but the action
would still result in the death of a human being.
Researchers said cultured stem cells could produce new
heart cells, or new insulin-producing cells for the
treatment of diabetes, or new neurons for patients with
Parkinson's disease or spinal-cord injuries.
Embryonic stem cells are the basic or primordial cells from
which all of a human's bodily tissues and organs develop
during pregnancy. Under a federal ban, government-funded
researchers must avoid human stem-cell studies and other
research that involves the use of human embryos. Part of
the federal law states that the ban applies only to what it
calls "organisms." Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, minority leader
on the subcommittee, said that definition would exclude
stem-cell culturing and thus allow it.
Spain going to the devil as Church and State officials strive to stem satanic activities
The Church in Spain estimates that a quarter of a million people in Spain are involved in satanic activities which include the Black Mass and human sacrifices. These numbers and the fact devil worship is so prominent throughout Europe and especially in Spain alarms all. A theologian from the Spanish bishops conference has evidence of human sacrifices and warns there could be more murders and suicides as satan seeks to gain more souls by this means. What bothers most is the fact that many of these satanic cults are protected by legal means which allows them to continue unabated. For more, click on satan invades Spain.
SATANIC CULTS CAUSE FEARS IN SPAIN
MADRID (CWNews.com) - An investigation into the activities
of Satanic cults, undertaken by the Spanish newspaper ABC,
has yielded disturbing information about the growth of the
cults' activities, and the connection with murders,
suicides, and human sacrifices.
The ABC investigation involved interviews with police
spokesmen, other public officials, Church representatives,
and members of the sects themselves.
Jaime Mayor, the government's interior minister, reported
that there are now "about 200 destructive sects" operating
in Spain, "the majority of them under legal cover." Police
estimates put the overall membership of the groups at about
The Spanish bishops' conference offered a higher estimate:
250,000 people engaged in devil-worship, associated with 40
major cult groups. Father Manuel Guerra Gomez, a theologian
and specialist in cult activities, said that there was
substantial evidence to support the belief that some of
these cults had engaged in human sacrifice; he mentioned an
incident in Barcelona, in which a young gypsy girl was
apparently killed at a black mass.
The ABC article also cited statistics from the
international law-enforcement consortium, Interpol,
suggesting that the number of such ritual sacrifices is on
the rise across Europe. Interpol reported that there were
at least 100 human sacrifices in Europe in the years 1989
Conflict among churches at World Council of Churches could result in some moving closer to returning to True Church
Plenty of fireworks are expected as the World Council of churches opens its annual meeting, this year in Zimbabwe, Africa. The Orthodox churches lead the way in protesting the liberaliztion of most churches which includes ordination of women and acceptance of homosexuality. Many suspect a strong contingent of gay-rights activist will try to wrestle control of the convention to pass liberal laws that will benefit the homosexual lifestyle, something that cannot be accepted by anyone who professes loyalty to Jesus Christ. These issues could very well push the Orthodox churches and others toward ecumenism with the one Church who will have none of these heresies or aberrations against what Our Lord established: the Roman Catholic Church. It is just one more example of how God allows evil for good. For more, click on Council needs counseling
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OPENS MEETING AMID CONTROVERSY
HARARE, Zimbabwe (CWNews.com) - The World Council of
Churches opened its annual assembly on Thursday amid a
controversy that saw a boycott of the opening worship
service by many Russian and Greek Orthodox delegates.
The international body of Protestant and Orthodox churches
faces growing tensions because Orthodox members are
increasingly dissatisfied by what they see as creeping
liberal stances on theological issues, including ordination
of women and acceptance of homosexuality. While many
Orthodox delegates chose not attend the opening worship
service, others -- including Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew of Constantinople -- elected to attend by not
lead the service.
The meeting, which will end on December 14, is expected to
address the Orthodox concerns. Contrary to earlier
assurances from WCC officials, it seems certain that the
homosexual issue will reach the assembly floor, at least
obliquely. A message from a pre-assembly women's festival
will refer to "human sexuality in all its diversity." Such
language was opposed by Orthodox women as well as
Protestants from Africa and the Mideast. The disaffected
delegates mainly blame Protestants in North America and
Europe for the increasingly liberal slant to the
For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site. CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.
PROVERB OF THE DAY
"Man's pride causes his humiliation, but he who is humble of spirit obtains honor."
Proverbs 29: 23
Click here to return to SECTION ONE or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
December 4-6, 1998 volume 9, no. 236 DAILY CATHOLIC