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MONDAY      August 9, 1999      SECTION TWO       vol 10, no. 148

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE

Events Today in Church History

    On this date 516 years ago, Pope Sixtus IV celebrated the first Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel, which he commissinoed to be built during his thirteen year pontificate. It would later be decorated by the master Michelangelo and become the location for the College of Cardinals to meet and be cloistered in Sacred Conclave during Papal Elections. For other pertinent events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

Historical Events in Church Annals for August 9:

"Division breeds anger, contempt, and all manner of evil for it lacks divine charity. To love Me is to follow Me; to speak as I spoke; to forgive as I forgive, to love as I love. But you cannot do this if you do not possess Me, and where a heart is filled with pride I am not! "

    Those words from Our Lord were imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart on May 17, 1995 in which Jesus entreats His children to forgive and forget, to remember why He died on the Cross and the truths He left us. He laments that so many speak in His name when their hearts do not mean it. He follows that message with further words on the eve of the Ascension and again on May 29 where Our Lord reminds all that tribulations must come in order to purify men's hearts and cleanse the earth but as to the end of the world, no one knows that except the Father. Christ infers, however, that the times of purification and the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart are at hand and He refers to the signs that have been given, but which so many have refused to see because of their hardened hearts. For Messages 622, 623 and 624 from Our Lord, click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."

Messages 622, 623 and 624

Message Six-Hundred-twenty-two, May 17, 1995

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

Message Six-Hundred-twenty-three, May 24, 1995

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
(Eve of the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord)

Message Six-Hundred-twenty-four, May 29, 1995

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

God cannot be denied!

"It was the great boast of the eighteenth century that 'God' and 'the supernatural' would be exorcized by an exposure to light. But what happened with the rejection of religious faith was the upsurge of political superstitions which came very close to making the world a madhouse."

with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



Meditation on Eternity on Feast of Transfiguration

      CASTEL GANDOLFO, AUG 6 (ZENIT).- Before celebrating Mass on Friday at 7:30 a.m., John Paul II remembered Paul VI, on the 21st anniversary of his death.

      August 6 was the Feast of the Transfiguration, when Jesus Christ appeared in glory on Mount Tabor, conversing with Moses and Elijah, in the presence of the apostles Peter, James and John. The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ has been celebrated from earliest times, starting in the East and spreading westward. In 1457, Pope Calixtus III extended it to the whole of Christendom, to commemorate the victory of Christians in Belgrade over Mohammed II, conqueror of Constantinople and enemy of Christianity. The news of the victory arrived in Rome on August 6.

      On this day in 1978, Pope Paul VI prepared an address he was unable to deliver. Part of the text of the Pontiff, who closed Vatican Council II and directed its implementation, read as follows: "Today's solemnity sheds a brilliant light on our daily life and carries our mind to the immortal destiny that overshadows this fact."

      "Yes," John Paul II said, remembering Pope Montini, "we are made for eternity, and eternity begins now, because the Lord is among us, and he lives with and in his Church."

      "But, like the disciples, we also must come down from Tabor to daily life, where the ups and downs of life challenge our faith. We have contemplated on the mount, but on the streets of life, we are asked to tirelessly proclaim the Gospel that enlightens believers' steps," the Holy Father concluded. ZE99080504


Pro-Life Groups Express Concerns about "Forced Pregnancy" Issue

      NEW YORK, AUG 6 (ZENIT).- In ongoing meetings to refine aspects of the proposed International Criminal Court, the Canadian government has proposed that the new International Criminal Court revoke the centuries-old legal tradition that a Catholic priest may not be compelled to reveal what he hears in the confessional. This revocation would also apply to the private religious counseling of other faiths.

      Such a change in procedure holds serious consequences for priests. By Canon Law, a priest who directly reveals secrets revealed in Confession is subject to automatic excommunication, whose forgiveness is reserved to the Apostolic See (Can. 1388 §1). Under the Canadian proposal, a priest who refused to speak would be subject to punishment by the court.

      "The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion," reads Canon 983 §1. Over the course of the history of the Church, saints such as John Neppomuck have given their lives to protect this seal.

Pro-Life Concerns

      The International Criminal Court statue was passed in Rome last summer but will not go into effect until 60 governments ratify it. The ICC preparatory commission has been meeting over the past two weeks at UN headquarters in New York City to determine the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and the Elements of Crime.

      The Rules of Procedure and Evidence being debated this week were drafted by a working group that met in Paris last April. The working group consisted mostly of NGOs rather than governmental officials. The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute reports that Kathryn Balmforth, a Utah-based civil rights attorney who follows the ICC for Brigham Young University Law School, said, "The group that met in Paris was a group of ideological NGOs promoting their own interests in controlling and manipulating proceedings within the court. The fix is in. This will not be a fair court but a left-leaning ideological one."

      Pro-family attorneys and law professors are concerned about a whole host of issues related to the current ICC meetings. Chief among their concerns is the proposal of the Paris group to include victims as full and separate participants in the ICC proceedings. Western legal tradition allows victims to sue in civil actions that are separate from the criminal procedures. The current proposal would allow NGOs to stand in for the victims as well, and this is what worries pro-family attorneys the most. "This proposal would force the defendant to answer charges from many quarters all at once," said Balmforth. "This would turn the proceedings into a kangaroo court."

      The question of "forced pregnancy" has also resurfaced at this meeting which ends next week. Against the wishes of radical feminists in Rome last year, UN delegates insisted that "forced pregnancy" could in no way refer to a woman's inability to get an abortion. The new proposal refers to the illegality of "keeping a woman pregnant" against her wishes. Some believe this is a back-door to an international right to abortion.

      To date, only Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, Italy, and Sao Tome and Principe have formally ratified the ICC. The Holy See was influential in the initial debates to pass the statute. ZE99080620


Revelations Surrounding Valencia's Sacred Chalice

      MADRID, AUG 5 (ZENIT).- Salvador Antuņano Alea, professor of Ethics and Sacred Scripture at the Francisco de Vitoria University Center in Madrid, has just published a book on the relic believed to be the chalice used by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper, and at present kept in the Valencia Cathedral. The title of the book is, "The Mystery of the Holy Grail: Tradition and Legend of the Sacred Chalice."

      "If Indiana Jones had visited Valencia, he would have paid no attention to old medieval legends, and he would have saved himself all the dangers of 'The Last Crusade,' " Antuņano humorously affirms in the book's opening line. Over the length of 220 pages, the author reviews the tradition that envelops the Sacred Chalice, including archaeological research on its use in the Last Supper, its use by the first Popes of Christianity, it relocation to Spain, medieval legends, its stay in the Monastery of St. John of la Peņa, and its first entry into documented history at the end of the 14th century.

      The author finally brings together the negative publicity and damages it has been subjected to since then, as well as its use by John Paul II during a Mass celebrated in Valencia in November, 1992.

      According to tradition, the Grail was the chalice from which Jesus and his disciples drank during the Last Supper. It is a proper cup, to which a gold structure with two handles has been added. The piece is 17 centimeters high. The cup is semispherical, about 3.5 inches in diameter and made of dark red agate. Archaeological studies reveal the work was done in a Palestinian or Egyptian workshop between the 4th century B.C. and the 1st century A.D.

At the Dawn of Christianity

      This cup, connected with the first Eucharist, could not have been forgotten after the Redeemer's death, all the more so since the disciples met several times afterwards in the Cenacle. This is the explanation for the Sacred Chalice's appearance in Rome. According to tradition, it was brought from Jerusalem by St. Peter. Two and a half centuries passed, with clear indications that the chalice was used by the early Pontiffs to celebrate Mass. According to Antuņano, "What most impresses the researcher is the Roman liturgical canon of the first Popes. At the moment of consecration, they literally said: 'take this glorious chalice,' referring strictly to 'this' [one]." (Here Antuņano is referring to the official Latin text, "hunc praeclarum calicem." The current U.S. English translation is simply, "the cup.")

      History records that during the persecution of Emperor Valerian, shortly before his death at the hands of the Romans, Pope Sixtus II gave relics, treasures and money to his deacon Lawrence, a native of Huesca, Spain, who was also martyred, but not before sending the Eucharistic Chalice to his native city, accompanied by a letter. This was in the year 258 or, according to some authors, 261.

      The cup remained in Huesca until the Moslem invasion. Bishop Audeberto of Huesca left his city with the Sacred Chalice in 713, and took refuge in the Mount Pano caves, where the hermit John of Atares lived. Later, the monastery of St. John of la Peņa was founded and developed here. It was from here that a nucleus of determined men left to undertake the re-conquest of Spain from the Moslems. This struggle had epic proportions, which were not ignored by literary creativity. According to historians of literature, this was the origin or source of the famous poems of Chretien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach, about the hero Percival (Parzival). Eschenbach's epic later inspired Wagner's opera, "Parsifal." In all these poems there is a marvelous Cup, which is called "Graal" or "Grail" and whose link with the Sacred Chalice is easy to understand.

      The presence of the Sacred Chalice in St. John of la Peņa is attested by a document dated December 14, 1134. On September 26, 1399, the Chalice went to Zaragoza for safekeeping, at the request of the King of Aragon, Martin the Human. In the text of offer, which is kept in Barcelona, there is evidence that the Sacred Chalice was sent from Rome with a letter of St. Lawrence. During the reign of Alfonso the Magnanimous, the relic was moved to Valencia. Since March 18, 1437, it has been kept in the Cathedral of that city, according to a document which refers to it as "the Chalice in which Jesus Christ consecrated the blood on the Thursday of the Supper."

The Most Dramatic and Sublime Story of Humanity

      "The Sacred Chalice is not known sufficiently either within or outside of Spain," Antuņano, a Mexican living in Spain, states; he believes its "value is not in scientific rigor fully attested, even if archaeology itself has no objections to its authenticity, but in the symbolism of the Lord's Supper. It is valuable because it is a sign and figure of the institution of the Eucharist, and this is much greater than any historical vestige."

      The author states that when "the mystery of the Grail is revealed, one realizes it is in no way an esoteric enigma; what it encloses is the most dramatic, romantic and sublime story humanity has ever known: the story of the Word made Man and Eucharist."

      The book, edited by EDICEP and published in Spanish, has a prologue by Archbishop Agustin Garcia Gasco of Valencia, who highly recommends the reading of the book because "it highlights the value and meaning of the Holy Grail, which acquires its relevance in the Eucharist." ZE99080506


      NICOSIA, Cyprus ( - Italian archeologists said on Thursday that they have found a marble inscription on the island that supports the Biblical assertion that St. Paul preached there.

      The researchers from Catania University said they had found fragments at a dig in the town of Paphos bearing the inscription "Apostolou Paulou." The fragments were found close to a temple dating from the ancient Hellenistic period and dedicated to the Greek god Apollo, team director Professor Filippo Guidice told reporters. "This marble was made to commemorate the presence of the saint there," Giudice said. "There is another marble like this in the catacombs of the Vatican."

      Acts 13:4-6 relates how Paul and Barnabas visited Cyprus and journeyed as far as Paphos. Giudice said the fact that the fragments bearing Paul's name were found near the temple of Apollo reaffirmed previous evidence that pagan temples were gradually taken over for Christian worship.

      Meanwhile, the "Miss Universe" contest, which is scheduled to take place in Cyprus in May of the year 2000, has unleashed a serious debate. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church expressed "surprise and sadness when it heard that during the celebrations to commemorate 2000 years since the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, an international spectacle will take place that scandalizes the Church's flock." Archbishop Chrysostom of Cyprus has called on the government to reverse its decision, but the Minister of Commerce replied that the event only helps to promote tourism. ZE99080607


"The Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and on the third day He will rise again."

Matthew 17: 21-22

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August 9, 1999 volume 10, no. 148   DAILY CATHOLIC