Her hand, until now hidden beneath the folds of her dark blue mantle, comes suddenly to her mouth as she stifles a gasp. I realize that it is the moment of Judasí betrayal. Her Divine Son has been handed over to His enemies.
"Son!" The word is a prayer which takes flight like a fiery dart and I see the dart leave the room and know it goes directly, instantly to her Sonís Sacred Heart. Thus do they comfort and strengthen each other, these two hearts which have always beat as one. She, the Mother - she, the Handmaid of the Lord, must also fight off satanís attacks. Her faith, her hope, her love, her humility and obedience cannot fail. She, too, from all eternity,. Has been called you suffer along with her Divine Son. He, God made Man, will not fail. She, the creature immaculately conceived, must be so united to God as to remain steadfast as His Son suffers cruelties beyond description. This she understands. This she has known from the moment of the Annunciation. This, also, has been her earthly life.
And it is prayer - pure from the heart, which sustains her at each moment. The prayer is constant, rising always to the Father. It is a prayer of humility, of absolute obedience and utter faith in Godís holy will.
She joins her hands together and her eyes raise to Heaven and there is no sound from her lips. The tears flow unceasingly but her entire being is joined to God - to her Son.
I, too, fall to my knees and pray a wordless prayer asking forgiveness for every single thought, word, deed, omission of my life which has caused such pain to infinite love. It is also, again, a heart-felt prayer of thanksgiving for all that Jesus endured for me; for the loving sacrifice of His own tortured Mother who, throughout the great trial, never faltered in doing Godís Will.
I remain here, in prayer with our heavenly Mother, and the silence of the night deepens. O! Jesus forgive me! Where are you now? What are they doing to You, Who are my God? Our heavenly Mother sees and knows. It is her strength at this moment which sustains my own poor prayer.
The cause for the beatification of Pope Paul, who served as Pontiff from 1963 to 1978, was opened in May 1993, with the approval of the Holy See, under the aegis of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Popeís vicar for Rome. Some 63 witnesses have presented evidence to a diocesan tribunal, and their testimony has been confirmed by declarations from many bishops.
During this time, another process was taking place in Milan, where Giovanni Battista Montini served as archbishop from 1954 until his election to Peterís throne. And a third process was begun in Brescia, where he was born and raised. The Milan tribunal heard 71 witnesses; the Brescia panel heard 21 more.
After the completion of the diocesan inquiries, all of the testimony heard by these tribunals will be forwarded to the Vaticanís Congregation for the Causes of Saints. That dicastery will then prepare a "Positio," or synthesis of the documentation, to determine whether there is adequate evidence to justify a finding that Pope Paul lived a life of "heroic virtue."
"The Vatican accepted the program of the visit which will include only the capital," Orthodox Bishop Mihaita Nifon told state radio. The Vatican and Romanian Catholic bishops had originally wanted to include two other cities with large Catholic populations on the three-day papal visit that begins on May 7, but faced opposition from Orthodox leaders.
Bishop Nifon said the visit will include Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, meetings with Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist and Catholic bishops, and a meeting with Romanian President Emil Constantinescu and government officials. The Orthodox Church earlier this year ended its long-time opposition to any papal visit, setting up the first visit by a pope to an Orthodox country in centuries.
Other issues involved in the planning of the visit included ongoing disputes between Catholics, who were suppressed by the Communist government from 1946 until 1991 when Communism fell, and the Orthodox who were given Catholic properties during the Communist reign.
The cardinal told the crowd of 1,700 that abortion is "a moral disaster that stalks our land ... an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the culture of death and the culture of life." He also called on Catholics to bring their faith into the public arena, influencing society in politics, economics, education, and other areas.
Cardinal George also warned against extremism and a lack of charity for those who disagree. "That means not beating people over the head and always using a tone of compassion and caring," he said.
In a related story out of Boston that has significance regarding Catholics getting involved in politics for the pro-life cause, Raymond Flynn, a former US ambassador to the Vatican, will head the national political group Catholic Alliance, the group announced over the weekend.
Flynn, a former Democratic mayor of Boston, on Wednesday will officially become head of the alliance which was founded in 1995 as a branch of the Christian Coalition. "It's doing what I believe in and what is consistent with the social justice position of the Catholic Church," Flynn said. While he is avowedly pro-life, Flynn's other political positions have placed him at odds with Republicans who form the traditional political base of the Christian Coalition from which the alliance separated two years ago.
The Catholic Alliance, which has 125,000 members, was most recently led by Keith Fournier, a founding partner of the American Center for Law and Justice, a legal advocacy group connected to Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson.
Flynn ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination to the US House seat vacated by former US Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. Flynn partly blamed his loss to Michael Capuano on his pro-life stance.
Speaking on March 13 to young priests and seminarians taking part in an annual course organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, Holy Father said: "It is necessary to make oneís confession before approaching the Eucharist whenever one is conscience of having committed mortal sin." The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the top ecclesiastical tribunals at the Vatican, responsible for problems of "the internal forum"óin other words, the forgiveness of sins and indulgences.
The Pope said that "it is Godís will that the forgiveness of sins and restoration to divine friendship should be accomplished through the work of the Church." He illustrated his point by citing the words of Jesus to Peter: "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven."
Someone conscious of grave sin, the Pope continued, must confess his sins before receiving the Eucharist if he hopes to do so "licitly and fruitfully." He explained that while the sinner may obtain Godís forgiveness immediately if he is truly sorry for his sin, "he must have the intention of accusing himself as soon as possible in the sacrament of Reconciliation." He added that general absolution carries no value unless it is preceded by an individual confession of any grave sins.
For lesser faultsó venial sinsósacramental confession is not technically necessary. But the sacrament still is "extremely useful," because the penitent can find special help in avoiding future sins. Therefore the faithful have the "right" to confess venial sins, he stressed, and that right corresponds to an obligation on the part of the confessor. Through the steady practice of confession, even of venial sins, the penitent can experience great spiritual growth, the Pope said, adding that the sacrament is "a school which forms great saints."
"I hope that the Jubilee Year will be an occasion for all the faithful to approach the sacrament of Reconciliation, thanks to the generous service of priest-confessors," the Pope concluded as he ended his address.