Monday thru Friday at
See why so many consider the
Daily CATHOLIC as the
"USA Today for CATHOLICS!"
November 10, 1999
SECTION TWO vol 10, no. 213
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION THREE and SECTION ONE
Italy's retired Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Sensi will celebrate the 70th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood next month
Our one-hundred-twenty-first red-hat we feature, in alphabetical order is the 92 year-old Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Sensi, retired Nuncio prelate who has lived under seven different Popes during this century. Since 1987 he has been totally retired in Rome. He received his red-hat and elevation to the cardinalate from Pope Paul VI in the Consistory of May 24, 1976. For more on Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Sensi, click on COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION
121. Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Sensi
Retired since 1987, Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Sensi is one of the oldest living cardinals, presently over 92 who will celebrate on December 21st his seventieth anniversary as a priest. He was born into an influential and devout Catholic family on May 27, 1907 at Consenza in Italy. His parents provided him the tools to be an exceptional servant of the Church, providing an excellent education for him and paving the way for young Giuseppe to study in Rome where he earned degrees in both Theology and Canon Law from the Lateran. He was ordained a priest on December 21, 1929 at only 22.
Besides various early pastoral assignments, he returned to school at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Accademy. In 1934 Pope Pius XI appointed him Secretary to the Nunciature of Bucharest in Hungary. It was a trying time with the emergence of World War II where he worked in Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. He was transferred to Brussels shortly after the war. In 1947 Pope Pius XII sent him to Prague and eight years later on May 21, 1955 named him titular Archbishop of Sardi while at the same time making him Apostolic Nuncio to Costa Rica. A year later the Holy Father appointed him Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem until 1962 when Pope John XXIII transferred him to Ireland as Nuncio there. In 1967 Pope Paul VI made him Nuncio to Portugal where he remained until 1976. It was in that year that Paul VI named him a cardinal deacon in the Consistory of May 24, 1976. He was transferred to the order of cardinal priest on June 22, 1987 with the titular church of Queen of the Apostles. He will celebrate his seventieth year as a priest next month at Piazza San Calisto, 16 00153 in Rome where he remains close to the Holy See but inactive in his late autumn years.
Appreciating of the Existence of Purgatory
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. We look again today at that merciful gift from God - Purgatory - where we are able to be cleansed before looking upon the Beatific Vision forever. There have been many misconceptions about this intermediate "stopping off point" between earth and Heaven and we hope to convey what the Church teaches about Purgatory over the next several installments. For the forty-eighth installment, click on APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
THE EXISTENCE OF PURGATORY
The doctrine of Purgatory is eminently consoling to the human heart. It consoles us when our loved ones die. Purgatory is a bond of union making us realize that death is not an eternal separation for the just, but only a loss of their bodily presence.
Purgatory gives us an assurance that we are still in touch with our beloved dead. We are consoled by the knowledge that we can still help them with prayer, as in life we so helped them.
The doctrine of the existence of Purgatory is not only reasonable, but its negation is eminently contrary to reason; it is taught in Holy Scripture, and has been taught by the Church from the very beginning.
The doctrine of a middle state of purgation is taught in the Old Testament, and was firmly believed in by the Hebrews. After a battle, Judas Machabeus ordered prayers and sacrifices offered up for his slain comrades. "And making a gathering, he sent twelve drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. For, if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid for them It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins" (2 Maccabees 12: 43-46).
When Our Lord came on earth, He purified the Jewish Church of all those human changes that with the years had crept into its usages and beliefs. But He never reproved anyone for belief in a middle state of purgation, or prayers for the dead. On the contrary, Christ more than once implied the existence of purgatory. He said: "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this world, or in the world to come" (Matthew 12:32). When Our Lord said that a sin will not be forgiven in the next life, He left us to conclude that some sins will be thus forgiven. But in the next life, sins cannot be forgiven in Heaven: "There shall not enter into it anything defiled" (Apocalypse/Revelation 21:27). Neither can sins be forgiven in hell, for out of hell there is no redemption. They must therefore be forgiven in a middle state, Purgatory.
Belief in the existence of Purgatory is a continuous and solemn teaching of the Church. From Saint Paul, the early Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, on through the ages, the Church has taught the existence of Purgatory, and the correlated doctrine of the usefulness of praying for the dead.
From the beginning Christians prayed for the dead at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The oldest books used at Mass contain prayers for the dead. The doctrine of Purgatory was given solemn definition by the Council of Trent as follows: "There is a Purgatory, and the souls there detained are assisted by the suffrages of the faithful, but especially by the most acceptable sacrifice of the altar."
This dogmatic definition contains three points of faith that all Catholics are compelled to believe;
- (a) that there is a Purgatory;
- (b) that after death souls suffer there for their sins;
- (c) that the living can extend assistance to such souls.
Reason demands belief in the existence of Purgatory. If a man dies with some slight sin on his soul, a sin of impatience, or an idle word, is he fit to enter Heaven? God's sanctity forbids it: "There shall not enter into it anything defileld" (Apocalypse/Revelation 21:27). But must such a soul be consigned to hell? God's mercy and justice forbid it.
Therefore reason concludes the existence of a middle and temporary state of expiation, where the soul is cleansed from all stain of sin before it can be admitted into the perfect holiness and bliss of Heaven. "Amen, I say to thee, thou wilt not come out from it until thou hast paid the last penny" (Matthew 5:26).
Among nearly all peoples there has persisted a belief that souls must undergo some sort of purification after death. This would point to the doctrine of Purgatory. Not only is this what Catholics believe, but the Greek story of Prometheus implies a place of purgation. The Egyptians and others believed in the transmigration of souls. Legends and myths of all nations, as well as burial customs, indicate belief in the possibility of helping the dead.
Tomorrow: The Souls in Purgatory part three
Today we commemorate the Feast of Pope Saint Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church while tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and vignettes on these feasts, click on DAILY LITURGY.
Wednesday, November 10, 1998
First Reading: Wisdom 6: 1-11
Psalms: Psalm 82: 3-5, 6-8
Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 11-19
Feast of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Pope Saint Leo the Great who became the 45th in the line of Peter when he was chosen to succeed Sixtus III on September 29, 440. Born in Tuscany, Italy near the very end of the 4th Century, Leo came up through the ranks of the Deaconate and was in France attempting to reconcile the warring factions there when he was elected Pope. Though, like most pontiffs, he did not feel worthy, he nevertheless accepted the privileged and august duties of leading God's people through the middle of a most turbulent century. Naturally the people looked to him for leadership and to save them from the plights that would afflict them, yet Leo, as a humble but effective deacon knew he couldn't do it by and of himself. He placed everything in God's hands and constantly sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in the hands of God, Leo became a powerful instrument to protect and honor the Church during the decay of the Roman Empire, the assaults of Arians, and the invasions of heathens. Three years into his papacy Leo convened an assembly to rebuke and endorse Pope Innocent I's condemnation of Manicheanism as well as exposing Nestorianism, Priscillianism, and Arianism. In 451 he called the Fourth General or Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon where he staunchly defended the Incarnation, defining the revealed teaching of faith that in Christ there are two distinct natures, the divine and the human, hypostatically united in one person. He also condemned the heresy of Eutyches. But the Byzantine Court did not convey his words to the people and the heresy grew stronger among the Eastern monks and bishops. This made it necessary for Leo to convene the Fifth Ecumenical Council, this time at Constantinople where he condemned in no uncertain terms the Three Chapters or heresies running rampant. He garnered the signatures of all the Bishops, proclaiming "Peter has spoken by Leo." He admonished his bishops to know their faith and to assure that their priests in each diocese were knowledgable in Dogma and Doctrine so that the people would not fall into the heresies that had assaulted the Church during the Third, Fourth and Fifth Centuries. Leo not only assured unity within ecclesiastical ranks, but re-established harmony among the faithful. He is called "great" because of his energetic work in maintaining unity, his involvement in the liturgy, politics, preaching and writings, which have been cherished and passed on through the ages. But to historians his greatest accomplishment came in 451.
The year before a barbaric horde known as the Huns had overrun the Empire, pillaging and plundering Gaul and moving rapidly from the north through Italy to the gates of Rome. Fearing no man, Leo chose to meet Attila face to face at the gates. Many felt it was suicide and that Rome's fall was a fait accomplis, but Leo knew God would protect him and so he bravely confronted the pagan king at the gates of Rome, pursuading Attila to abandon his plans to sack the city. To everyone's astonishment Attila rounded up his horde and turned away from Rome. It was another in the many encounters down through the centuries where, through the grace of God, a superior force is turned away, evidence David slaying Goliath, the victory at Lepanto, Saint Clare holding aloft the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance to protect the city, and many more such cases where the power of God was manifested. Leo took very seriously his charge handed down from St. Peter to rule Christ's Church as Christ instructed. Leo knew it was not him who convinced Attila to forego his attempts on Rome, but the miraculous vision God allowed Attila to behold of Saints Peter and Paul standing behind Leo. The "Scourge of God" knew that any power this great was not to be messed with or he would be scourged by God, and so, totally overcome mentally by the vision he had seen, he retreated. It was the end of the threat so feared throughout Europe as the Hun king died two years later while Leo ruled another ten years, 21 in all, receiving his Heavenly reward on September 10, 461. In 1754 St. Leo was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV, honoring this great Pope for his great writings and wisdom at a pivotal time in Church and world history. He had shown great courage and his skills at governing the Church and emphasizing spirituality while juggling the political footballs of his time. His actions strengthened the Vatican's position in the world while bringing the people to a closer understanding of what Jesus meant in His words to Peter in Matthew 16: 18-19, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."
Thursday, November 11, 1998
First Reading: Wisdom 7: 22-30; 8: 1
Psalms: Psalm 119: 89-91, 130, 135, 175
Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 20-25
Feast of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop
Born the son of a Roman officer and pagan parents in Hungary around the year 319, Saint Martin of Tours became the epitome of the Good Samaritan throughout his life, beginning at the age of 15. Having been educated at Pavia, Italy, Martin followed his father's footsteps when he enlisted in the Roman army as an imperial guard. On one cold day, the legend relates, he came upon a barely-clothed beggar who was shivering. As people passed him by, ignoring his pleas, Martin felt compassion. Having no money, only his weapons and his long red army-issued cloak, Martin drew his sword and slashed the cloak in half, giving the poor man the cloak to warm him. As he slept that night, Martin had a vision in his dreams of Jesus Christ who was wrapped in the half cloak Martin had bestowed on the beggar. It was a confirmation of Christ's words in Matthew 25:35-40 specifically the last verse, "Amen I say to you, as long as you did for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me." The dream had such a profound effect on Martin that he immediately sought out the Christians for catechumenism. Constantine had passed the Edict of Milan and Christians were now free to openly profess their faith. After six years as a catachumen, Martin was baptized and traded his commission in the army for the minor order of exorcist by Saint Hilary of Poitiers. After Hilary was exiled, Martin went back to his Hungarian homeland, where, through his example he converted his pagan mother. After Hilary was allowed to return to Poitiers in France, Martin left Hungary to rejoin Hilary there as his disciple. Martin was ordained and became a hermit on land that would eventually become the monastery of Liguge - the first ever monastery in France that was reinstated by the Benedictines in 1852 and still exists today. Martin gained the reputation of being a miracle worker after he had brought a catechumen back to life. He became so popular that the people of Tours demanded he become their bishop when the vacancy came. In 371 he was selected Bishop of Tours and dedicated his episcopate to evangelization. Four years later he founded the monastery at Marmoutiers where vocations multiplied, providing many priest-monks for the region and beyond. He was an excellent diplomat and administrator, convincing representatives of the Roman Empire in the west that the Church should have the same guidelines and freedom in France that Constantine afforded Holy Mother Church in Rome. His austere lifestyle was a bone of contention among other bishops and priests who fought his attempts to instill this way of life on them. While at a country parish trying to quell the division among the clergy, he died in 397 at the age of 78. His efforts and the seeds of faith he planted in French soil nourished France for centuries where Tours became the focal point of monastic life. He was one of the most well-beloved bishops of the 4th Century and has always been one of France's favorite saints so much so that in the autumn, when the leaves begin to fall, they call it "St. Martin's summer" for that is the time the people drink the new wine that has been harvested and wine represents the fruit of Christian virtue which Martin personified.
Click here to go to SECTION THREE or return to SECTION ONE or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
November 10, 1999 volume 10, no. 213 DAILY CATHOLIC