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October 12, 1999
SECTION TWO vol 10, no. 194
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE
Appreciation of the Dignity of the Priesthood
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the great treasuries of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. We continue with the Hierarchy - the Priests as part of the Mystical Body of Christ - treating today the Dignity of the Priesthood. For the thirtieth installment, click on APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST - PRIESTS
The Dignity of the Priesthood
The priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church is the highest dignity on earth. The dignity of a priest surpasses that of kings, emperors and any head of state, and, yes, even of angels. No angel can convert bread into the Body of Christ by the mere power of his word; nor can any angel forgive sins. The priest stands between God and man. He is God's representative, God's ambassador. Therefore whatever honor we pay to the priest, we render to God Himself. Therefore it is mandatory that Catholics show reverence and honor to the priest for he is the representative of Christ Himself, and the dispenser of His mysteries.
The humblest priest in the world by his word can call down God upon the altar and convert bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. He can say to the sinner, "I absolve you," and the sinner's soul is saved from hell. Not even the Blessed Virgin Mary possessed the power to forgive sins, to grant absolution that erases the very guilt of sin.
Therefore, we owe the priest reverence due to his dignity as representative of Christ. Even if a priest's life does not correspond with the requirements of his office, we should give respect; this we offer to his office. And in that office the priest is alter Christus - another Christ. Our Lord calls the priest "a city built upon a hill," the "salt of the earth." He is in the world, but not of it. Saint Francis de Sales said of priests: "I will close my eyes to their faults, and only see in them God's representatives." With this in mind, we should always afford a priest the most reverent outward gesture of respect when in their presence and respect them even moreso when not in their presence. That means refraining from gossip even if we do not like the priest or agree with him. To calumniate a priest is a sacrilege. Furthermore, one who lays violent hands on a priest is subject to excommunication. In recognition of this respect, we should endeavor to assist him in every way we can, with our talents, time and treasures as we can feasibly afford it and as God sees fit.
The path to this status of dignity is not easy or overnight. For obvious reasons preparation for the priesthood is a long process in order to weed out anyone not worthy of that dignity. There have been cases where a boy who had a vocation to the priesthood was prevented from realizing his desire because of the opposition of his parents or others, or was seduced by a woman away from his vocation - even priesthood. Those who oppose a vocation are responsible before Almighty God for this interference. Sometimes the boy turned out badly, even living an immoral or criminal life. While the young man is also responsible before God, so also are those who throw unwarranted roadblocks in the potential priest's way. Because men are human, some men do slip through the cracks and become ordained. Later in their priestly life there are those enticed by satan to cross over to the other side, some are deceived by others and some are weak of the flesh. But regardless of their character or human frailties, they are"priests forever according to the order of Melchisedech" until receiving a total dispensation from Holy Mother Church at the highest level.
Finally, if one's will is good and his heart intent on serving God, it is likely that with the blessing of God he will lead a useful life in His service, as His minister. Then at the end of life, may he say this prayer of a dying priest: "Lord, my eyes are dim from searching for Thy lost sheep! My voice has lost its power from preaching Thy word! My hands tremble with weakness, from leading Thy little ones along Thy paths, to guard them from going astray! My heart falters, having spent its force in the mighty struggle for Thy kingdom! And now that I can give Thee nothing more, take my soul, O Lord, and let it rest with Thee!" We leave you with this final thought, where would the Church be, where would we be, without God's priests?
Tomorrow: The Mystical Body of Christ: the Laity
Events Today in Church History
Two hundred-seven years ago the United States Congress decreed that Columbus Day would be commemorated on this day in honor of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, crediting with discovering America 507 years ago. More important for Catholics in America he was the instrument that brought the faith to these shores and has grown steadily ever since. While in our politically correct environment today he has been maligned, no one can take away the fact that through his efforts in bringing the Spanish missionaries to the western hemisphere, the Americas lead the world in the number of Catholics. 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 October 12:
Death of Pope Honorius I,70th successor of Peter, who was born in Capua and elected on October 25, 625. He sent missionaries to almost all parts of the known world and instituted the feast of the Exaltation of tahe Holy Cross on September 14 (Now called the feast of the Holy Cross). He resolved the problem of the Eastern Church and the Schism of Aquileia on the question of the "Three Chapters."
Death of Pope John IV, 72nd successor of Peter who died four years to the date Pope Honorius I passed away. John's papacy lasted nearly two years and this Dalmatian pontiff tried to bring the dissidents of Egypt to the way of Truth. He had translated to the Lateran the remains of the Martyrs Saints Venantius, Anastasus and Maurus. He himself ordained 28 priests and 18 bishops in order to be certain of their faith in the face of so much heresy.
Death of Saint Wilfrid, Bishop of York. This holy confessor helped bring English churches in line with Rome and he began the English missions to Germany.
Death of Blessed James of Ulm who was born in 1407 and became a master of stained-glass art at which he was encouraged to continue after joining the Dominicans. It is said that one day, after placing an ornate window in the kiln oven he was ordered to go out and seek alms. Knowing if he didn't tend to the kiln it would turn brittle and melt under the heat, but he also realized obedience bore the greatest fruit and thus complied with his superior's request. To his amazement and gratitude when he returned late that night he discovered the most beautiful stained glass window in perfect condition and far superior in quality and design than any he had ever created.
The malcontent monk Martin Luther is first interrogated by the Pontifical ambassador regarding his theories and dissidence
Death of Saint Serafinus of Montegranaro. Born Felix de Nicola in 1540, he became a Franciscan clerical advisor and was known to be able to read hearts and souls. He was given the gift of prophecy and canonized by Pope Clement XIII on July 16, 1767.
The United States Congress meets and declares October 12th would officially be "Columbus' Day" honoring the Italian Catholic explorer for his accomplishments and key role in bringing the faith to the new world.
Pope Paul VI canonizes Saint Oliver Plunkett, who was born in 1629 and died in 1681). He was an archbishop and first Irish saint to be so honored in over seven centuries.
Breaking up is a hard thing for the soul!
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".
"A disordered soul is characterized by the same sort of thing that has happened to an atom, namely, fission. Everywhere there is a breaking up, an alienation, a fragmentation and a dissolution. Such a person no longer is a unit. He is divided first within himself; he is divided from his fellowman; he is alienated from God."
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant
Hindus threaten to disrupt Papal Visit in India
As if the Holy Father doesn't have enough obstacles facing him in upcoming papal trips, now word comes that a Hindu extremist group is advocating disrupting the Pope's visit to New Delhi, India to officially close the Asian Synod. Their reasons are for the Pope to apologize formally for converting people to Christianity, beginning in Goa when Saint Francis Xavier brought the true Faith to India. The extremist group called these conversions an atrocity against the people even though the majority were moved voluntarily throught the grace of God. In effect, what the action by the Hindus really is is to embarass the Pope and Christianity as India has had many violent clashes launched by extremist Hindus against Christians. For more, click on Foreign intrigue in India
HINDU GROUP ANNOUNCES PROTEST CAMPAIGN FOR PAPAL VISIT
NEW DELHI (CWNews.com) -- The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP -
World Council of Hindus) declared in New Delhi on Saturday
that it will spearhead a 15-day campaign demanding an
"apology for forced conversions and atrocities committed
against Hindus" from Pope John Paul II during his scheduled
to visit New Delhi next month.
VHP will commence its 15-day protest march from western Goa
state on October 20 and will conclude in New Delhi on
November 4, on the eve of the arrival of the Pope in New
Delhi, said Acharya Giriraj Kishore, VHP vice-president.
"(The Pope) should not take part in religious functions if
he is coming as the head of a state. And, if he is visiting
India specially for religious purposes, then the government
should not treat him as a state guest," said the leader of
the Hindu group that has been in the forefront of
anti-Christian propaganda from Hindu extremist groups. The
Holy Father will use the visit to formally release the
final exhortation from the Synod for Asia held in Rome in
April and May last year.
The VHP leader said the Pope should tender an
"unconditional apology" for atrocities committed under the
name of conversion during his stay in the country as "Goans
faced such acts by missionaries." It was in Goa that western
missionaries first arrived in India in the 16th century led
by Saint Francis Xavier, whose body is preserved in the Bom
Jesus cathedral in old Goa. Christian leaders rejected the
group's characterization of the activities of missionaries,
holding that while there may be a few exceptions, the
majority of conversions were voluntary.
The Hindu extremist group has also declared that it will
hold countrywide demonstrations on October 20 to create
awareness about the activities of missionaries even as the
march will be launched from Goa.
Cardinal Rouco hopes to unite Bishops to a common cause after numerous debates last week at the European Synod in Rome
Capping a week in which liberal Cardinal Carlo Martini gave a veiled threat of a "Third Vatican Council to stop the madness of the Pope," Spain's Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela sought to bring both sides closer to the middle and remind them that the Church's origins are already in the future of the Church in Europe and that the bishops need to be aware that to change something that is unchangable will never work. However, he pointed out in his talk, it is important to re-energize in spreading Christ and His Gospel to new, modern European societies who are only a shadow of the proud tradition of past Europe. He also called for a melding of ideas in various issues to treat topics of discussion without compromising the teachings of the Church. He acknowledged it is a major project considering the different cultures, diversities, history and languages of the continent. For more, click on Second week of the European Synod.
CHURCH IN EUROPE WILL NOT BE SAME AFTER SYNOD
Spanish Cardinal Rouco's Report Following Assembly's Debate
VATICAN CITY, OCT 11 (ZENIT).- "Today we begin a new stage," Cardinal
Antonio Maria Rouco, Archbishop of Madrid, said to the Synod of Bishops for
Europe, in his "report following the debate." A new stage in the technical
sense, as the Synod has ended the first phase in which the general assembly
heard the talks of each of the participants and must now address the
proposals that will result from this ecclesial summit. But it is also a new
stage in the figurative sense, because -- given the honesty, breadth and
depth of the analyses presented, the Church in the Old Continent emerges
from this week with a new awareness. In a certain sense, and without being
demagogic, it could be said that the life of the Church in Europe will not
be the same after this Synod.
"Our brothers' word has helped us know ourselves better, it has given us
light and confirmed us in faith and hope, particularly (the word) of those
who have spoken as witnesses of the faith who have suffered imprisonment
and torture in their own flesh for love and fidelity to the Truth that
saves us. Now we shall study what was heard in smaller groups, to be able
to formulate some proposals to give to the Holy Father on the situation and
task of the Church at this time in Europe."
The Spanish Cardinal summarized the "convergence" or "fundamental
coincidences" that have emerged from the talks heard by the participants.
Among the most notable and important, he pointed out, is the common
perception of "the urgency of our Churches to announce and give transparent
witness to Jesus Christ, to his personal and operating presence, as the
source of hope that Europe needs."
In the second place, Cardinal Rouco said that the Bishops have insisted on
the need to plan the new evangelization for Europe as a lived and visible
proposal of Jesus Christ, who is alive in his Church and as such, the
source of hope for our contemporaries.
In the third place, this Synod has manifested the need to undergo an
ecclesial examination of conscience both in regard to the situation of
European society as well as that of the Church itself.
The Cardinal went on to make 20 proposals for the new evangelization that
will guide the reflections of the different language working groups. Among
them is ecumenical dialogue; the Church's dialogue with the political and
cultural world, and new impulse to some of the sacraments, such as
Confession. In addition, the Cardinal mentioned other very contemporary
issues, such as charities; the presence in, and relation with, the media;
the role of women; social doctrine that responds to the needs of our time,
such as unemployment and immigration. He also stressed the need to update
the announcement of the Gospel in the new European societies.
Return to Origins
Cardinal Rouco's report ended by recognizing that the Church's future is
already in her origins. "The renewal of Christian life in its very sources
(faith in God's Word, celebration of the sacraments, the work of charity)
will bring the divine and human hope that Europe needs. Renewal comes from
the encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ, who teaches us -- through
his Spirit, to understand the mystery of the cross and of life, forgiveness
and glory." ZE99101106
Brazilian Bishop who was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI hands in his resignation to John Paul II
The Franciscan Archbishop of Aparecida in Brazil Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider has submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul II because Friday he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. He asked the Holy Father that he be allowed to stay in Aparecida where the national Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is located. Elevated to the cardinalate by Pope Paul VI in 1976, he has been Archbishop of Aparecida since July 12, 1995. As President emeritus of the Brazilian Bishops Conference in the seventies, he was instrumental in negotiating many policies on human rights and helping Brazil escape from the yoke of military control in the late eighties. For more, click on Cardinal Lorscheider .
CARDINAL LORSCHEIDER RESIGNS BECAUSE OF AGE
SAO PAULO, OCT 11 (ZENIT).- Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider, former president
of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil during the years of the
military regime, has reached the age of compulsory retirement established
by the Church -- 75 years.
In keeping with Canon Law, Lorscheider presented his resignation to John
Paul II. The Pope could decide on his immediate retirement or request that
he remain for a time in the important diocese of Aparecida, the heart of
Brazilian Marian spirituality, some 170 kilometers northeast of Sao Paulo.
As head of the Episcopal Conference between 1970 and 1979, Lorscheider
often met with the military authorities to express his concern over
violations of human rights and to request a return to civilian government.
The Armed Forces governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985.
Famous author of Catholic novels dies of heart attack in Australia
Morris West, author of the best sellers "The Shoes of the Fisherman," "The Devil's Advocate," and "Eminence" among others, died of a heart attack at his home in Clareville, Australia while working on his last novel "The Last Confession". Cantankerous and at odds with the Church and cynical after she would not annul his first marriage, West walked the tightrope of staying faithful to the Church, criticizing the Magisterium for not being in touch with the people today. His most famous novel "The Shoes of the Fisherman" - dealing with a Slavic Pope from an Iron Curtain country - was written well over ten years before John Paul II became Pope in 1978. Some considered West the "Andrew Greeley" of Australia, but that is an insult to the talents and faith of this man who was born in Sydney, Australia and he should be more properly compared with the late Malachi Martin. For more, click on Morris West.
NOVELIST MORRIS WEST DIES AT 83
CLAREVILLE, Australia (CWNews.com) - Morris West, the
Australian novelist who wrote 30 books, often dealing with
Catholics themes, died on Saturday of a heart attack at 83
years old as he was writing his last novel.
West reportedly died midsentence as he was writing "The
Last Confession." Among his best-known novels were "The
Shoes of the Fisherman," "The Devil's Advocate," and
"Children of the Sun." Father Paul Collins, another author,
told the Canberra Times newspaper that West's "tense
relationship" with the Catholic Church is countered with a
strong loyalty and affection for the religion.
West had entered the Christian Brothers order, but left in
1939 before taking his final vows and then continued to
include religion as a major theme throughout his 54-year
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Finally the long-awaited books
"I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..." and THE HIDDEN WAY
are NOW available!
With the messages completed, you can now order the book that contains ALL the messages. This much-anticipated 224-page book of ALL the messages to the world imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a lasting gift that will inspire you in your faith, and all God asks of us. You can acquire your own handsome, coffee-table top copy of "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..." containing all 632 messages or the THE HIDDEN WAY containing 100 inspirational Meditative Lessons from Our Lord and Our Lady on Church Doctrine by clicking on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..." or THE HIDDEN WAY or both books at BOOKS
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October 12, 1999 volume 10, no. 194 DAILY CATHOLIC