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June 9, 1999
SECTION TWO vol 10, no. 111
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION THREE and SECTION ONE
Today is the Tenth Wednesday in Ordinary Time as well as the Feast of Saint Ephrem of Syria, Deacon and Doctor of the Church while tomorrow is the Tenth Thursday in Ordinary Time. For the readings, liturgies, meditations and vignettes on St. Ephrem, click on DAILY LITURGY.
Wednesday, June 9, 1998
Green and White vestments
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 3: 4-11
Psalms: Psalms 99: 5-9
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 17-19
SAINT EPHREM OF SYRIA, DEACON AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
The Deacon Saint Ephrem or Ephraem was born in Mesopotamia in the year 306. Some historians claim he was born into a Christian family but most contend he was brought into a pagan family and abandoned. He was found by good Christians who took him in and baptized him in 324. The following year he accompanied his bishop Saint James of Nisibis to the Council of Nicea. Bishop James was so impressed with Ephrem's commitment to the Church and his progress in the faith that he charged him to begin a school in Edessa. Though he succeeded masterfully the Persian armies invaded forcing Ephrem and all the Christians of the village into hiding in 363. Ephrem sought refuge in a nearby cave, but refused to live as a hermit opting instead to veer from his hiding place to help others. His charity moved many who beseeched him to preach. This he did as well as seeking food and shelter for many Christians. He died in his cave in 373 during the great famine of that time. Ephrem was totally devoted to the Blessed Mother always proclaiming her Immaculate Conception throughout his life and spreading devotion to Our Lady. Many invoke him as the witness to her total purity for he was totally convinced of this and did not hesitate to share it with all he met. He also left numerous writings and hymns for posterity which qualified him as the only Syrian to be named a Doctor of the Church. This was accomplished by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.
Thursday, June 10, 1999
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 3: 15-18; 4: 1, 3-6
Psalms: Psalm 85: 9-14
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 20-26
PRAYER AND DEVOTION
Today's prayer is taken from the Opening Prayer honoring Saint Ephrem of Syria:
Lord, in Your love fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit, Who inspired the deacon Ephrem to sing the praise of Your mysteries and gave him strength to serve You alone.
Events Today in Church History
On this date a year ago, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, former Vatican Secretary of State and the man who came to be known as "Monsignor Perestroika" for his establishing and furthering dialogue with communist leaders in Eastern Europe. After serving under four popes, he capped a brilliant career of service by setting up the historic meeting between the Holy Father and Soviet head Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1989 at the Vatican. It was less than two years later that Communism would fall totally. 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 June 9:
Death of Syrian-born Saint Ephrem, deacon and Doctor of the Church who fostered devotion and writings on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, specifically the Immaculate Conception which would not be proclaimed dogma for nearly fifteen centuries. He died as a hermit in a cave during the great famine of that time. For more, see DAILY LITURGY
Death of Saint Columba, Irish monk and missionary to Scotland, who was also known as Colum or Colm. Though he did much to foster the faith, he clashed with many of the Irish saints of his time on the debate of the Celtic liturgy versus the Roman Liturgy. Over the years, after his death, the latter became the staple throughout the British Isles.
Otto of Brunswick was elected on this day to become Otto IV in succeeding Henry VI as king of Germany. Within six months he would be excommunicated by Pope Innocent III for invading Sicily. He would be forgiven in future years and Innocent would crown Otto the Holy Roman Emperor in 1209.
The Papal Legate Cardinal Carpini, returning from his mission work among the Mongols enters the city of Kiev, Russia, bringing the faith to the Ukraine.
Pope Greorgy XVI issues his second encyclical titled Cum primum to the bishops of Poland on civil obedience.
Death of former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli at the age of 83. He was Pope John Paul II's mastermind of the Church's great role in bringing Communism to its knees, especially in Eastern Europe. Cardinal Casaroli served under four popes and was John Paul's closest diplomatic aid when he was shot on May 13, 1981. It was Casaroli who set up the historic meeting between John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev in December of 1989, the first ever between a Supreme Pontiff and the head of the Kremlin.
Daily Coverage of the Pope's visit home
In our continuing coverage of the Holy Father's historic eighth return to his native homeland and the longest singular trip in his twenty-year pontificate, we present a special section providing the latest in-depth stories on the Pope's papal pilgrimage from the major Catholic news services covering the Vicar of Christ. For more, click on THE POPE IN POLAND
WORLD NEEDS "FOOLS FOR GOD"
Pope Commemorates Martyrs of All Times
BYDGOSZCZ, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- John Paul II's trip to Poland is surpassing
all expectations. This morning, some 700,000 people came to Bydgoszcz to
attend one of the most emotional Masses of this pilgrimage, in
commemoration of martyrs of all times.
The place where Mass was offered was significant. During the Second
World War, the Nazis exterminated one quarter of the population of this
city, which at the time numbered 140,000, and annexed Bydgoszcz to the
As witnesses to reconciliation, the Mass was also attended by the
Cardinals of Berlin, Cologne and Vienna.
History of Martyrs
In a moving address, the Pope reviewed the history of martyrdom from the
time of Nero and Diocletian to the Nazi extermination camps and Soviet
gulags. In the glorious list of martyrs, he mentioned 108 Poles whom he
will beatify next Sunday in Warsaw. These were killed during the German
occupation. Special mention was also made of Bishop Michau Kozal, killed
in Dachau and beatified by this Pope a few years ago, and Father Jerzy
Popieluszko, who was kidnapped in Bydgoszcz in 1994, and killed by
communist police who threw his body into the Vistula River. His
beatification cause is well underway.
The Holy Father reviewed Japanese, French, Vietnamese, Spanish and
Mexican martyrs because "now is the time to remember all these victims
and to grant them the honor which is their due. These are the martyrs:
many of them nameless, 'unknown soldiers' as it were of God's great
"All gave testimony of fidelity to Christ in spite of sufferings which
horrify us by their cruelty," the Holy Father continued. "Their blood
was poured out on our land and made it fertile for growth and for the
Martyrdom at End of Second Millennium
These are necessary models for Christians in our times who wish to live
the faith coherently, because to live the Gospel is not easy, especially
in modern consumerist societies. In addition to "public martyrdom" there
is "hidden martyrdom," which takes place "in the depths of people's
hearts; it is the martyrdom of the struggle with oneself and the victory
over oneself," the Holy Father explained.
The Pope then referred to the martyrs of our day and, in particular, to
the martyrdom of mothers who have sacrificed their life for their
children. He mentioned believers who have experienced harsh trials to
defend the right to freedom of conscience and religion.
"Fools for God"
"By their lives they show that the world needs such 'fools for God's
sake,' who walk the earth like Christ, like Adalbert, Stanislaus, or
Maximilian Maria Kolbe and many others," noted the Holy Father. "The
world needs people who have the courage to love and do not retreat
before any sacrifice, in the hope that one day it will bear abundant
John Paul II concluded, his voice breaking with emotion: "Indeed,
'rejoice and be glad,' all you who are ready to suffer for
righteousness' sake, for your reward is great in heaven!"
The Pontiff's third day in Poland began very early, under rainy skies,
with the blessing of the new shrine of the Virgin of Lichen. This
shrine, still under construction, will be the largest in Poland.
Once again, the Pope attracted huge crowds: 200,000 gathered for this
event, half of whom were up all night to insure a place for themselves
as close as possible to the Pope.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE HOPE AT THE END OF A CENTURY OF MASSACRES?
Pope Addresses Drama of Modern Man with Polish Professors
TORUN, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- After his meeting with 700,000 faithful, in which
he commemorated martyrs of all times, early this afternoon John Paul II
entered the recollected environment of the University of Torun, cradle
of Nicholas Copernicus, one of the most important astronomers in
Rectors from all the Polish universities came to the meeting at this
academic institution, created after the Second World War on the banks of
the Vistula in honor of Copernicus, and the Pontiff gave free rein to
the questions on which he has always reflected, and which were turned
into great debates with his students when he was a philosophy professor
at the University of Lublin.
Is there Room for Hope?
During the meeting with the professors, the Pope put aside academic
language and posed the great questions facing man. "Today the world
needs hope and is searching for hope! But does not the tragic history of
our century, with its wars, its criminal totalitarian ideologies, its
concentration camps and gulags, make it easy for us to yield to the
temptation of discouragement and despair?"
In answering this question, the Pope appealed to Blaise Pascal
(1623-1662), who once wrote "that man's knowledge of his own misery
leads him to despair (cf. "Pensées," 75). In order to discover hope, we
need to lift our gaze on high. Only the knowledge of Christ, Pascal
adds, sets us free from despair, since in him we realize not only our
misery but also our grandeur" (cf. ibid., 690, 729, 730).
Created to Love
The Holy Father pointed out that the human person "remains a being that
is incomprehensible to himself, his life is senseless, if love is not
revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not
experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately
in it" (Redemptor Hominis, 10). It is the same conviction he expressed
when he came to papacy twenty years ago and published "Redemptor
Hominis," a document which, more than just an encyclical, constitutes
the nucleus and program of his pontificate. Everything hinges on one
reality: "Man cannot live without love."
Only in this way is the temptation to despair, so keenly felt by
contemporary man, overcome. "Precisely this truth about 'God-Love'
becomes the source of the world's hope and points out the path of our
responsibility. Man is able to love, because he was first loved by God."
Finally, the Pope could not fail to address the questions that even
today Copernicus (1473-1543) poses to modern man. Copernicus was the
first man to formulate a coherent statement on the movement of the earth
and the other planets around the sun. "The discovery made by Copernicus,
and its importance for the history of science, remind us of the
ever-present tension between reason and faith," the Holy Father noted.
"Although Copernicus himself saw the discovery as giving rise to even
greater amazement at the Creator of the world and the power of human
reason, many people took it as a means of setting reason against faith.
Which of these is the truth?"
The Modern Drama
"The split between reason and faith was the expression of one of
humanity's great tragedies," the Pope explained. This rupture "caused
irreparable damage not only to religion but also to culture."
Consequently, the great challenge for contemporary culture, the Holy
Father concluded, quoting his last encyclical "Fides et Ratio," consists
in the "need to work for a reconciliation between faith and reason."
"YOUR HOLINESS, WE AWAIT YOU IN MOSCOW!"
One Thousand Russian Catholics Meet Pope Near Kaliningrad
ELBLAG, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- Yesterday afternoon, John Paul II's marathon
around Poland took him to Elblag, on the Russian border, just a few
miles from the military base at Kaliningrad (formerly Koenigsberg),
annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945, after months of bitter combat. He
was met there by Moscow's Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who
took advantage of the opportunity to come to greet the Pontiff, along
with one thousand Russian Catholics, and renew the invitation to John
Paul II to visit Russia.
"Your Holiness, we await you in Moscow!" the Archbishop said. He later
told the press: "All of us are dreaming and praying for the day when the
Holy Father can come to Russia and walk in Red Square, Saint Petersburg
and Kaliningrad. It is a dream that has become easier after the Pope's
visit to Rumania."
The Russian Catholics came to join the Pope in the celebration of the
millennium of Saint Adalbert's martyrdom. The martyr was the evangelist
of this region. The Russian Catholics used every possible means of
transportation, including small boats, to be with the Holy Father.
The Russians of the border region have great affection for Saint
Adalbert. The anniversary was an excuse for the Pope's visit, as the
Polish city of Elblag and Russian Tenkity both claim the honor of being
the site of Bishop Adalbert's martyrdom.
POPE PAYS TRIBUTE TO COPERNICUS
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- At a June 9 meeting with professors, Pope John
Paul II praised the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus, a native son of Poland.
Copernicus, the Pope said, showed his "admiration" for "the Creator fo the
world" and for "the power of human reason." Through his work, he advanced
the cause of science by his discovery that the earth and the other planets of
this solar system orbit around the sun.
The Pope acknowledged that many scientists and scholars have used the
Copernican discovery as the basis for "opposing reason to the faith." He
denounced that error, insisting that it is always important to "be open to the
reconciliation of faith and reason," lest religious beliefs be dismissed or
"reduced to myth or superstitution."
The Pontiff had his lunch near the birthplace of Copernicus, in the historic
center of Torun, near the red brick walls that surrounded the medieval city
on the banks of the Vistula River.
REMEMBER THE POOR WHILE ECONOMY GROWS, POPE SAYS
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II emphasized Lithuanian culture
during the fourth day of his trip to Poland, as he celebrated Mass in Elk, a
town on the northeast of Poland where ethnic Lithuanians form a substantial
minority of the population.
Several groups of pilgrims from Lithuania itself made the trip to Elk to see
the Pope, and the Holy Father addressed them in their own language during
his homily. He offered a special salute to the country's President Valdas
Adamkus, who was on hand for the Mass, and urged him, "Build the future of
your country on the faith, for the good of the Church, of Europe, and of
Speaking later to 150,000 people outside the Elk cathedral, the Pope
centered his remarks on the question of poverty, saying that Christians
should be mindful of those who are needy, especially during times of
economic crisis. (The region surrounding Elk is currently experiencing
economic difficulties.) At times, he said, that concern for the poor should act
as a brake on schemes for financial advancement. "Development and
economic progress cannot be pursued regardless of the cost," he warned.
POPE PAYS HOMAGE TO ALL MARTYRS IN CHURCH'S HISTORY
BYDGOSZCZ, 8 (NE) The third day of Pope John Paul II' visit to his
native country was characterized by great activity. He blessed
the church of the Shrine of the Madonna of Lichen in the morning
and a few hours later he celebrated the Eucharist in Bydgoszcz,
before more than half a million people. This celebration has
been called the "Mass of the Martyrs," where the Pope payed
homage to all the martyrs in the history of the Church.
The Holy Father recalled that alongside public martyrdom, there
is the Christian exigency of the "martyrdom of our vocation and
of our mission, a martyrdom of the struggle with oneself and of
the victory over oneself." The world, said the Holy Father
before the multitude, "needs these kinds of 'madmen for God',
that live their lives like Christ, such as Adalbert, Estanislaw,
Maximilian Maria Kolbe, and so many others. The world needs
people that have the courage to love and not to give up against
any sacrifice, in the hope that one day it will bear abundant
In the afternoon deacons and Polish scholars at the University
of Torun, birthplace of Nicholas Copernicus, received Pope John
Paul II. The Pope recalled the renowned astronomer and explained
that even though for him his heliocentric theory was reason to
give glory to the Creator, he is mistakenly presented by many as
symbol of the rupture between faith and reason. In this sense,
the Pope manifested, referring to his last encyclical "Fides et
Ratio," that the great and present challenge consists in
promoting "reconciliation between faith and reason." The
divergence of reason and faith expresses one of the great dramas
of man, he stated.
Facing the question if one can still have hope taking into
account the "dramatic history of our century, with its wars, the
criminal totalitarian ideologies, the concentration camps and
the gulags," the Pope answered that "the truth about
"God-that-Loves" is the source of the hope of the world and the
light that orients the path of our responsibility. Man can love,
because he has been loved before by God."
"To discover hope it is necessary to raise our eyes upwards.
Only the knowledge of Christ liberates us from despair, because
in Him we know not only our misery, but also our greatness." At
the end of the event, the Pope celebrated the Eucharist in that
same city. He beatified the priest Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski,
who died in the concentration camp of Dachau.
HOLY FATHER BLESSES LARGEST CHURCH IN POLAND
LICHEN, 8 (NE) Pope John Paul II blessed yesterday the new temple
in the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Lichen. Designed to resemble
the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, it is the largest
church in Poland and the biggest built in Europe in this
century. A bronze monument of the Pope weighing about 8 tons and
dedicated to the Pontiff was also inaugurated.
"I feel overwhelmed by this enormous building that, in its
architectural richness, is an expression of faith and love
toward the Virgin Mary and her Son," the Pope said during the
ceremony. The sanctuary in Lichen, to which every year more than
one million pilgrims go, dates to the middle of the XIX century,
built after two Marian apparitions in 1813 and 1850.
The rain was not an obstacle for the thousands of faithful that
went to the blessing of the temple, that is hoped to be
completely finished by the year 2000 and that should be able to
hold more than 7,000 faithful seated and 15,000 standing.
The Pope asked for the intercession of Holy Mary, "requesting
for us a live faith, a strong faith, that doesn't fear
difficulties, sufferings nor failures, a mature faith, without
reservations, a faith that cooperates with the Holy Church in an
authentic construction of the Mystic Body of Christ."
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June 9, 1999 volume 10, no. 111 DAILY CATHOLIC