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TUESDAY      February 2, 1999      SECTION TWO       vol 10, no. 22

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

SIMPLY SHEEN: Why we can't see in the dark!

      They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".

"Darkness is not a positive entity; darkness is the absence of light and is intelligible only in terms of light. Most of the suffering of the world is intelligible in terms of the abuse of something that is so profoundly good that not even God will take it away for all eternity, and that is our freedom."

January 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

    Dear children! I again invite you to prayer. You have no excuse to work more because nature still lies in deep sleep. Open yourselves in prayer. Renew prayer in your families. Put Holy Scripture in a visible place in your families, read it, reflect on it and learn how God loves His people. His love shows itself also in present times because He sends me to call you upon the path of salvation. Thank you for having responded to my call.
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE


      Today is the joyful Feast of The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple as well as the traditional occasion of Candlemass when candles are blessed and tomorrow these candles are used to bless throats for the Feast of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr. In many Dioceses this rite will be observed on the upcoming weekend. Tomorrow is also the Fourth Wednesday in Ordinary Time and the Feast of Saint Ansgar, Bishop and Religious missionary. For the readings, liturgies, meditations and vignette on these feasts, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Tuesday, February 2, 1999


     The Presentation of Jesus is also called the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas Day, since on this day the Church blesses the candles used in the procession (if there is one) and which will be used to bless throats on the next day - the feast of Saint Blase. The main focus of course is on the Presentation of Jesus which is in accordance with the old Jewish Law given from God to Moses for the Jewish women after childbirth. A mother was still considered unclean and not to appear in public for 40 days after the birth of a son, and 80 days after the birth of a daughter. At the end of this period, the first place she was to go with her husband was to the temple. There, at the door of the tabernacle she was to present a young pigeon or a turtle dove as a sin-offering. The ideal offering was a lamb, the highest immolation one could offer, as documented throughout the Old Testament - specifically with Abraham and Isaac and culminating with the Sacrifice of the Lamb - Jesus Christ on the Cross. However, very few could afford to donate a lamb for the altar. Therefore, they were allowed to substitute a second turtle-dove in lieu of a lamb. Once the high priest sacrificed these gifts to Almighty God, the woman was cleansed of the legal impurity and free to return to a normal life with all its privileges. In accordance with all this, the Blessed Mother, accompanied by her chaste husband Saint Joseph, complied, bringing Jesus with them since there was also a Hebrew code commanding the first-born be brought to the temple and presented to God. Hence, the Presentation. The Gospel Reading in Luke 2: 22-40 relates all that happened in the temple. Though the Virgin Mary was always pure she still was obedient to the law and humble in all she was asked to do by God and by man. There was also present in the mysteries of the Purification and the Presentation, a third "mystery", that of the prophecies of the holy Simeon and the prophetess Anna. Simeon knew immediately that this child was the Messiah. This was foretold by the prophet Malachi in his book of the Old Covenant and selected as the first reading in this feast's celebration of the Mass. He was also charged by God to reveal further the sorrows Mary would undergo by her fiat to God. The second reading in Hebrews 2: 14-18 reveals much of what Our Lady understood, especially verse 18 where Paul writes: "For in that He Himself has suffered and has been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted." Yes, Jesus walked in our shoes, so to speak, which allows us to follow in His footsteps.

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Feast of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr

      The traditional "Blessing of Throats" commemorates the feast of Saint Blase who lived in the fourth century. A philosopher and physcian, St. Blase was turned his back on the worldly pleasures and devoted his life to God as a physician of souls. His virtues and preaching drew people from everywhere. This bothered Agricolaus the Governor of Cappadocia, which is today Turkey and Iraq. The Roman governor seized Blaze and ordered his incarceration. On his way to prison, Blase was stopped by a distraught mother who pleaded for him to help her daughter who was dying of a throat disease. Blase, touched by her sorrow and faith, prayed and through these intercessory prayers the little girl was healed. Other reports say he healed a young boy choking on a fish bone. St. Blase is often depicted with two candles, used by priests on this day to bless throats. There are a plethora of stories of how many have been cured of throat diseases by praying to St. Blase to intercede. He was beheaded by the heathens in 316 and his remains are buried in the church bearing his name in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Unfortunately, the church was damaged by the Serbs in 1993 and is presently being restored.

Feast of Saint Ansgar, Bishop and "Apostle of the North"

     Dubbed the "Apostle of the North," Saint Ansgar was born into a noble family in 801 in Amiens in what was then Frankish territory. God called and Ansgar became a Benedictine monk at the Picardy monastery of Old Corbie. He became the master of the monastic school there before King Harold heard of his prowess as a preacher and evangelizer and requested the saint to accompany him back to Denmark under the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. His zeal and missionary success in Denmark prompted King Bjorn of Sweden to invite him into the land of the Vikings. While there he was made the first archbishop of Hamburg and later appointed by Pope Gregory IV as the first papal legate to the Scandinavian countries. During his fourteen years in Sweden he converted countless pagans and Holy Mother Church was making great inroads until the heathen Vikings invaded in 845 and destroyed the city of Hamburg and much of Sweden. Ansgar was forced to flee to Bremen in what is today Germany where he was appointed the first archbishop there in 848. Pope Nicholas I did not forget Ansgar or Hamburg, uniting the see of Hamburg with Bremen in 854 when Ansgar again returned to Denmark and Sweden resuming his missionary activities. His coup de gras was converting the King of Jutland, King Erik who was impressed with Ansgar's fluent preaching, great austerity and the holiness he exhibited to all. Though Ansgar had always wanted to be a martyr, he died at the age of 64 of natural causes on February 3, 865 in Bremen. Shortly after that the Vikings again overwhelmed Scandinavia and destroyed almost all remnants of Christianity as the entire lands resorted to paganism since there were no more "Ansgars" to keep the faith burning in the hearts and souls of the peoples. The lack of the Church to maintain her roots in Scandinavia was one reason protestantism took such a firm hold in these countries during the Protestant Revolution of the sixteenth century.


      Today's Prayer is the Responsorial to the Canticle of Simeon in honor of today's feast, taken from Luke 2: 32:

"Christ is the Light of the nations and the glory of Israel His people."

with a Catholic slant

provided by
Catholic World News Service
and Noticias Eclesiales Church News



      VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II cut short his regular Angelus audience on Sunday, January 31; the Vatican press office explained that the Pope has a mild cold.

      Speaking in a hoarse voice, the Pope told a group of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square that he was grateful to God for making it possible for him to travel to Mexico and the United States during the preceding week.

      Because of unusually cold weather in Rome, attendance at festivities organized by the Italian group Catholic Action fell short of the organizers' expectations. Nevertheless, the Holy Father offered his greetings to Catholic Action, as two young people from the group were invited up to the balcony of the papal apartment to read a message honoring the cause of peace.

      The Pope, however, did not stay on the balcony through the Catholic Action ceremony. After praying the Angelus, he sent his blessings to all the people around the world who suffer from leprosy, thus acknowledging the worldwide day of awareness for that disease. Then, after greeting the Catholic Action delegate, he retired into his apartment.

      On Monday, a "slight fever" further forced Pope John Paul II to cancel his scheduled appointments.

      The Pope evidently came down with the cold during his trip to Mexico and the United States. Journalists who accompanied him on that trip noted that the climate had been highly unusual: in St. Louis, where winter weather can be severe, the temperature was remarkably mild during the papal visit. But when the papal plane returned to Italy, the Pope's party was greeted by bitter cold weather.

      Among the appointments which the Pope postponed was a scheduled meeting with the mayor of Rome. It was not immediately clear whether the Pontiff would be able to celebrate Mass as scheduled in St. Peter's Basilica on February 2, the feast of the Presentation.


      VATICAN ( -- Leaders of Mexico's ruling party, the PRI, have taken offense at statements made by Cardinal Norberto Rivera during the visit by Pope John Paul II to Mexico last week.

      Local reports indicate that the PRI leaders thought Cardinal Rivera was criticizing them directly when he said the Mexican people had been "stricken" and "deceived" by their government. Cardinal Rivera made those comments during a Mass at a racetrack outside Mexico City during the papal visit. Since the PRI has exercised near- monopoly control of the Mexican government for the past 70 years, it seemed that the cardinal's remarks were an attack on that party's leadership.

      Mariano Alcocer Palaces, the president of the PRI, has issued a statement complaining, "It is not the function of religious leaders, from any denomination, to interfere in political affairs." Carlos Armando Biebrich, a member of the PRI national committee, agreed, saying: "Religious leaders have no reason to interfere in political matters, which concern only the state."

      The angry PRI reaction to Cardinal Rivera's remark is noteworthy in light of the long history of anti-clericalism in the Mexican regime. PRI leaders may be especially sensitive to criticism today because their party is, for the first time in recent history, facing real competition for the nation's political leadership.


      ROME ( - Two more members of the Missionaries of Charity religious order were murdered by Sierra Leone rebels who had held them hostage last week, just a week after a fellow nun was killed.

      The Rome-based missionary news agency MISNA said on Friday that two nuns were shot and killed, a third was wounded and under treatment at a hospital, and three other nuns and a religious brother were freed without harm. The group of missionaries was kidnapped by rebels in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, on January 14 by rebels fighting government troops.

      Last Saturday, the rebels killed one nun and wounded a priest as they fled from advancing troops. Two other priests and the archbishop of Freetown escaped from their captors unharmed earlier this month. More than 3,000 people have been killed since rebels renewed their offensive against the government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in December.

      Church News, reporting via Noticias Eclesias, reported that after the liberation of Italian missionary Gugliermo Zambiasi and of three other religious on the 29 of January, it was known that Sisters Sueva of Bangladesh, and Carmeline of Kenya, were victims of another combat with the rebels of the United Revolutionary Front (URF). Both sisters, as well as the other liberated catholic missionaries were taken hostage by the URF on the 14th of January. The group consisted of six Missionaries of Charity, five priests and Archbishop Joseph Ganda, of Freetown. To that same group belonged sister Aloyius Mary, also belongings to the Missionaries of Charity, killed by the rebels on the 22nd of January.


      PARIS ( - Over 100,000 people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest a government proposal to allow unmarried heterosexual or homosexual couples to register and receive civil and legal benefits previously reserved only for married couples.

      The proposed law would allow cohabitating couples older than 18-years-old to sign a Civil Solidarity Pact (PACS) that would allow them to benefit from joint tax filing status for married couples, as well as inheritance rights and other benefits. The draft law is supported by the left-wing Socialist government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and is opposed by pro-family groups, including the Catholic Church.

      Conservative deputy Christine Boutin, who has opposed the bill in the National Assembly, told the protesters: "Jospin said he listens to the French people. Now he can listen and withdraw the bill." The huge crowd had gathered in central Paris after having traveled by train and bus from all across France.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


    In honor of "Catholic Press Month" we feature today a site which lists Catholic media in the United States and Canada. It is CATHOLIC PRESS ASSOCIATION web site operated by CPA which should give you the names of all Catholic print publications in North America as well as foreign language publications.

Click here to return to SECTION ONE or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.

February 2, 1999 volume 10, no. 22   DAILY CATHOLIC