The Pope returned to Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea in Africa in February 10 through the 26th then Angola, Sao Tome, and Principe on June 4 through the 10th. On May 17 he beatified Blessed Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei. While again the Pope would only canonize a few, he would beatify a record 174 for the year including 163 martyrs of Mexico, Spain and Ireland. In July he entered Gemelli Hospital where he underwent colon surgery for the removal of a non-cancerous tumor. With the benign cyst removed he recovered in time to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of Christianity in the New World at Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic on October 12th through the 21st.
On February 2 through the 10th in 1993 he returned to Africa, visiting Benin, Uganda and the Sudan calling for peace and help for the poor people there. The end of April he made a quick visit to Albania while continuously pleading for an end to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Then, on June 12-17, he made a five-day visit to Spain with stops at Madrid, Huelva and Seville for the close of the International Eucharistic Congress. Sandwiched between those two trips he elevated six candidates to blessed on Divine Mercy Sunday at St. Peter's, including the "Apostle of Mercy" - his countrywoman who he had done so much to promote - Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska. John Paul II followed that up with European leaders of all faiths at Assisi for a prayer summit for peace and then jetted to Jamaica, Mexico and on to to Denver to preside at World Youth Day 1993 culminating with Holy Mass on August 15th in Cherry Hill Park where nearly two million turned out. The Holy Father conducted throughout the year Ad limina visits for all U.S. Bishops. On the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord - August 6th he issued his tenth encyclical Veritatis Splendor - "The Splendor of Truth" which dealt with moral teaching and initiated a series of encyclicals over the next several years that would define his pontificate. He canonized three and beatified 25. In November he dislocated his shoulder in a fall and took it fairly easy the rest of the year.
The year 1994, the "Year of the Family" in which the Holy Father issued a special Letter to Families in February, didn't begin on a healthy note for while he was recuperating from a shoulder separation, his hip gave out in April when he fell again, breaking his femur, and he needed surgery. He nursed it through the year and, after delays in the translation, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church was finally released in English. John Paul called the Synod of African Bishops as well as conducting a Synod on Religious Life. He visited Zagreb in Croatia on September 10 where millions cheered him and he shared their grief over the war in their homelands. The surgery John Paul II had on his hip earlier in the year forced him to cancel a scheduled trip to the U.S. where he was to address the United Nations Assembly. Towards the end of the year he received countless petitions requesting him to proclaim Mary as Coredemptrix, Advocate and Mediatrix of all graces. Because of his health no saints were canonized in 1994 but he did manage to beatify fourteen including Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla an Italian doctor who offered her own life for her child.
Tomorrow we will conclude this lengthy profile with the years 1995 to the present and the essence of John Paul II's papacy and why he should go down as one of the greatest Popes ever.
Awhile back, I wrote about the National Catholic Reporter's (NCR) contest to create a 'new' Jesus for the millennium. How appropriate, how fitting, that they'd use Christmas to unveil their 'new' Christ for their 'new' church. Their man-made Jesus for their man-made church.
Reported by the Associated Press by David Crary, the 'winning' artist was Janet McKenzie, a self proclaimed "devout agnostic," with an interest in ALL faiths. We may recall that G. K. Chesterton said that those who feel all religions are alike may as well say that all race horses are alike. Similiar maybe, but hardly alike.
McKenzie said that her "goal was to be as inclusive as possible." It's great to say that we should be inclusive, but we have to understand that being inclusive doesn't mean, as NCR and CTA (et al use it, to include those things that can't or shouldn't be included. As David Carlin of Our Sunday Visitor points out: "...they (reformers/dissidents) talk a lot about the importance of 'tolerance' (inclusiveness is often used as a synonym for tolerance). Properly understood, tolerance is a magnificent virtue, indispensable in a pluralistic society like our own. But it becomes quite the opposite of a virtue when it is taken as a synonym for "anything goes." " ("Where deists tread, disaster follows" David Carlin, Our Sunday Visitor; Dec. 19, 99)
We have many visions, paintings, renderings of Jesus. Jesus on the cross, the Sacred Heart, the Infant of Prague, the laughing Jesus, etc. Each speaks to the heart through art toward a certain aspect of Christ. Savior and King, suffering and triumphant. Lonely and sad, laughing and warm. There is no ambiguity about Him, He is the Christ, the Son of God.
McKenzie's 'Jesus' is "At first glance...a black or African-American Jesus, but (supposedly) looking more deeply you see many people in it." She went on to say that 'her' Jesus was intended to be a masculine presence, but she sought to add a feminine dimension, so she used a woman as a model. Now, I have to admit that when I first saw the painting, I thought it was a woman, hardly any 'masculine' presence at all. If anything, it is, at best, sexless. As androgynous as Saturday Night Live's Pat. So, Jesus, an historical male, is rendered as.....who knows.
He/she is robed with a pale pink background. (No mention what, if anything, the background was to represent, but considering the color and symbol of gay activists!) In the upper left corner is the yin-yang symbol. This is interesting since the philosophy of the yin and the yang is just about totally contrary to Christian philosophy and teaching. The Yin and yang depict in symbol a 'balance.' Light and dark, male and female, strong and weak, good and evil. Christ is weak? Evil? Both man AND woman? Are we to presume Jesus was in touch with His feminine side? Again, instead of art being used to clarify, or inspire, we see it being used here to befuddle and confuse.
A feather in the upper right corner symbolizes the American Indian spirituality, which McKenzie said she learned about during a stay in New Mexico. What is interesting about this is whether or not it is a true Indian spirituality, or rather, as one American Indian put it, "a bunch of middle aged white women making up their version of Indian spirituality."
National Catholic Reporter and their sister organization, Call To Action, have their 'new' Jesus. But is it a true 'symbol' of Christ? Hardly. Though it has to be pointed out that their (NCR's) intention was to cause an uproar. "If everyone looks at it and says, 'Very nice,' that means we've failed. Every new work of art that has been worth anything has been controversial when it first appeared." (Michael Farrell, editor of NCR)
The only thing 'controversial' is what 'does' this painting represent? It definitely represents the intrusion, and adherence, of Gnostic/New Age philosophy into the Christian faith. The combining of a sort of native spirituality (an eco-spirituality; the earth is god) [though the American Indian gave honor and worship to the Great Spirit, who they called Father and translates very readily into Christian spirituality]. Along with Hinduism, Taoism (yin and yang). It holds elements of a few agendas, with no 'Christian' spirituality (except the name of the piece).
It's simply a practice in 20th century deism which sees itself as better than the 'revealed' religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. And like the 'deists' of the 18th and 19th century, instead of creating a 'new,' better and truer kind of religion, this piece acts only as a symbol of their journey from faith to complete irreligion, from faith, to agnosticism, to outright atheism.
As for the painting itself, my hat's off to Janet McKenzie. As a piece of art, it's very well done. Had it been called "Woman in Blue" I would have said it's akin to the works of O'Keefe. (Yup, I did take a number of course in art appreciation) But to call this a symbol of a religious nature, to call it "Jesus of the People," one might expect her next work to be a concentration camp entitled "Picnic in the Grass."
But the NCR and CTA, to quote David Carlin, do not see "themselves as the foes of decency.....they view themselves as the apostles of a better and higher morality -- hence the incredibly self-righteous tone they adopt when chastising the rest of us for our old-fashioned attachment to traditional morality." ("Where deists tread, disaster follows"; David Carlin, Our Sunday Visitor; Dec. 19, 99)
Pax Christi, Pat
The Pentateuch was divided in the course of time into five parts or books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It begins as a kind of universal history of mankind (Gen. 1-11), but quickly limits itself to an account of the immediate ancestors of the Hebrews (Gen. 12), and finally becomes in the following books (Exodus-Deuteronomy) the history of the Hebrews up to the time of the conquest of the Promised Land.
Genesis (50 chapters) covers the period from the creation of the world to Joseph's death in Egypt. At this point Exodus takes up the narrative of Israel's sojourn in Egypt. The main divisions of Genesis are: I. The Primitive History (Gen 1, 11-26). II. The Patriarch Abraham (Gen. 11, 27-25, 18), III. The Patriarchs Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 25, 19-36, 43). IV. The History of Joseph (Gen. 37, 1-50, 26).
These events were of prime importance to the chosen people, for they became thereby an independent nation and enjoyed a unique relationship with God. Through Moses God gave to the Israelites at Mount Sinai the "Law": the moral, civil and ritual legislation by which they were to become a holy people, in whom the promise of a Savior of all mankind would be fulfilled.
The principal divisions of Exodus are: I. The Israelites in Egypt (Ex. 1, 1-12, 36). II. The Exodus from Egypt and the Journey to Sinai (Ex. 12, 37-18, 27). III. The Covenant at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19, 1-24, 18). IV. The Dwelling and Its Furnishings (Ex. 25, 1-40, 38).
Continuing the legislation given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, Leviticus is almost entirely legislative in character; the rare narrative portions are subordinate to the main legislative theme. Generally speaking, the laws contained in this book serve to teach the Israelites that they should always keep themselves in a state of legal purity, or external sanctity, as a sign of their intimate union with the Lord. Accordingly, the central idea of Leviticus is contained in its oft-repeated injunction: "You shall be holy, because I, the Lord, am holy."
The main divisions of Leviticus are: I. Ritual of Sacrifices (Lev. 1-7). II. Ceremony of Ordination (Lev. 8-10). III. Laws regarding Legal Purity (Lev. 11;16). IV. Code of Legal Holiness (Lev. 17-26). V. Redemption of Offerings (Lev. 27).
The various events described clearly indicate the action of God, who punishes the murmuring of the people by prolonging their stay in the desert, at the same time preparing them by this discipline to be His witnesses among the nations.
In the New Testament Christ and the Apostles derive useful lessons from such events in the Book of Numbers as the brazen serpent (John 3, 14f), the sedition of Core and its consequences (1 Cor. 10, 10), the prophecies of Balaam (2 Peter 2, 15f), and the water gushing from the rock (1 Cor. 10, 4).
The chief divisions of the Book of Numbers are as follows: I. Preparation for the Departure from Sinai (Num 1, 1-10, 10). II. From Sinai to the Plains of Moab (Num. 10, 11-22), 1). III. On the Plains of Moab (Num. 22, 2-26, 13).
The chief characteristic of this book is its vigorous oratorical style. In a series of eloquent discourses Moses exhorts, corrects and threatens his people, appealing to their past glory, their historic mission, and the promise of future triumph. His aim is to enforce among the Israelites the Lord's claim to their obedience, loyalty and love.
The events contained in the Book of Deuteronomy took place in the plains of Moab (Deut. 1, 5) between the end of the wanderings in the desert (Deut 1, 3) and the crossing of the Jordan River (Josue 4, 19), a period of no more than forty days.
The Book of Deuteronomy may be considered the testament of Moses, the great leader and lelgislator, to his people on the eve of his death. Jesus Christ quoted passages of Deuteronomy in overcoming the threefold temptation of Satan in the desert (Matt. 4; Deut. 6, 13. 16; 8, 3; 10, 20), and in explaining to the lawyer the first and greatest commandment (Matt. 22, 35-39; Deut. 6, 4).
The book is divided as follows: I. Historical Review and Exhortation (Deut. 1, 1-4, 33). II. God and His Covenant (Deut. 4, 44-11, 32). III. Exposition of the Law (Deut. 12, 1-26, 19). IV. Final Words of Moses (Deut. 27, 1-34, 12).
Election of Pope Marinus I on the same day his predecessor died. Marinus becomes the 108th successor of Peter. His pontificate would only last two years and he would exercise great pressure on the Eastern Emperor Basil to act against schismatics. He would die on May 15, 884 with a strong suspicion of poisoning surrounding his death which would occur while he was trying to solve the quarrels of Italian factions.