December 22, 1997   vol 8, no.57


We Begin Christmas Week...

      Since this is Christmas week, we are abbreviating the issues this week and next in order to spend quality family time. Yet you will still receive each issue of the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday right here on the CATHOLIC-INTERNET NETWORK. Because of the Christmas vacation schedule we are suspending the daily CATECHISM CAPSULES until the beginning of the year as well as our three mega-series features - THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH, AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS, and WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM?, plus the Lighter Side - A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN and VATICAN II VERIFICATIONS. We will continue each day bringing you, of course, the LITURGY OF THE DAY, PRAYERS & DEVOTIONS, PROVERB OF THE DAY, our regular COLUMNS, and NEWS & VIEWS of the day (except from Christmas/New Year's Eve through the weekend following the respective Holy Days). We will definitely finish up our installment series on the Instructions to the Laity on assisting the priests as directed by Rome in THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS. In addition, we will bring you more "Christmas Card" graphics, such as you see above, in keeping with the spirit of the season. All series and daily features will resume the first of the year.

Today's 21st installment on the Instructions handed down by the Holy See last month is the completion of the twelve articles in the PRACTICAL PROVISIONS section, entitled Necessary Selection and Adequate Formation of this document as we near the end of the entire 37-page instructions this week. Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Twenty-second installment: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS
Necessary Selection and Adequate Formation

Should it become necessary to provide for "supplementary" assistance in any of the cases mentioned above, the competent Authority is bound to select lay faithful of sound doctrine and exemplary moral life. Catholics who do not live worthy lives or who do not enjoy good reputations or whose family situations do not conform to the teaching of the Church may not be admitted to the exercise of such functions. In addition, those chosen should possess that level of formation necessary for the discharge of the responsibilities entrusted to them.

In accordance with the norms of particular law, they should perfect their knowledge particularly by attending, in so far as possible, those formation courses organized for them by the competent ecclesiastical Authority in the particular Churches, (112) (in enviornments other than that of the Seminary, as this is reserved solely for those preparing for the priest hood). (113) Great care must be exercised so that these courses conform absolutely to the teaching of the ecclesiastical magisterium and they must be imbued with a true spirituality.
NEXT ISSUE: Conclusion part one

To understand our lives we must recognize the Holy Spirit

      That is the crux of today's column on "How to Pray with the Heart" by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. which highlights thirteenth chapter and the need to give recognition to the Sanctifier dwelling within us. Click on HEARTS TO HEART TALK

How to Pray with the Heart

Part Thirteen: Understanding the vital role of the Holy Spirit in our life

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

      If I really want to take Mary's wishes to heart, I must first give RECOGNITION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT dwelling within me. Even this in itself already needs His help. I cannot even express a belief in His presence unless, He in His goodness and His love for Jesus, prompts me to do so. Once this recognition is made, it is needed for me, and again with His help, to give Him reverence for Who He is and for the reason that He abides within me. It is expected of me to do this at the time of my Confirmation and most certainly along the road of life I come to a spritual maturity with enough composure and enough freedom to extend a loving welcome to Him and, again, with His help, to let Him know that I want His indwelling and I want sincerely for Him to do within me what it is that I need anywhere along the road of life to remain faithful to my vocation as a follower of Jesus. When He first entered my spirit at the time of my Baptism, He brought with Him gifts that, through my acceptance of , and His use of them, together, we can travel along that new road of the fullness of life wherein, though having entered life darkened in mind and weakened in will, I can avail myself of all that is offered to me for my salvation and sanctification.

      However, and this is a big however, though freed from the stain of Original Sin, I still have within me its effects. I find myself offering resistance to the Spirit in doing His work within me, some of this being deliberate, and some of it coming forth from my formed personality. Once I came into self-realization, I found that I have within me qualities, some good and some not so good, which I did not choose, but which were placed within me by those who helped to form me - parents, friends, culture and the like - as also elements which I inherited. My Father Creator, as He envisioned me from all eternity, set within me specific inclinations, potentials, and even limitations long before my creation took place, all in favor of my finally being able to accomplish, within my life on earth, all those things which were within His plans for me. In my next installment I will treat the "spiritual cholesterol" that blocks us from truly praying from and with the heart.

To review Father Valenta's previous columns in this series, go to Archives beginning with the August 18, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 16.

Where to go for the Answers? Try CATHOLIC ANSWERS.

      The glut of holiday parties and get-togethers gives Catholics an excellent opportunity to evangelize their faith. But all too often too many Catholics remain silent, letting others bash their faith; many Catholics even ashamed to admit they are Catholic. Don't let this happen to you. Today we review a site that can help you in the trenches with non-Catholics and others. Check it out. Any question you may have, chances are CATHOLIC ANSWERS has the answers! To them we present our Golden Chalice Award for the week. Click on SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK


The one place to go for the Answers: CATHOLIC ANSWERS!

      With the Christmas holidays upon us, many of us will be getting together with friends and relatives. At these gatherings, many will be non-Catholics, fallen-away Catholics or lukewarm Catholics. As often is the case, after a bit of the bubbly the conversation can often turn to religion. When this occurs, inevitably the Roman Catholic Church is always brought up. Will you sit there like a lump nodding, or will you know what to say, how to counter false and subtle attacks they may make, or questions they may have? There is an ideal site on the world-wide web called CATHOLIC ANSWERS at This site, specializes in Apologetics and Evangelization and it is not only an excellent reference point and resource, but an interactive site where one can e-mail any question on a number of subjects from God, Creation, Gospel, Sin, Salvation, Last Things, Scripture, Church, Saints, Sacraments, Morals and on non-Catholic sects or Groups. Headed by the respected founder of "Catholic Answers" and Editor of This Rock magazine - Karl Keating. He, along with a staff of three other apologists, will answer any question you might have. But before you e-mail in your question, check out the built-in search engine right on the home page. It's easy to navigate and whatever your question, there's liable to be just the right answer with the proper tract you can print out and know before you go to that party or get-together. Know your faith and you'll be able to better serve Jesus Christ as a loyal disciple. CATHOLIC ANSWERS provides the perfect vehicle for knowing that faith and being able to defend the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith to any and all. The answers are simple and easy to read in lay terms that don't take a Rhodes scholar to understand. Yet the answers are profound and complete. This site lists documentation from various Church Fathers, Saints and Councils to verify the facts. In addition, they offer the browser to order books, booklets, audio and video tapes, printed tracts and This Rock magazine. They also offer an entire Catholic Answers Collection software CD which includes the text of multiple Bibles, certain words in Greek that better define the text, as well as a set of biblical time maps. Though this is probably the most complete work available on CD, it doesn't come cheap. They offer it for $189.95, but if you're truly serious about your faith and the importance of evangelizing than it is well worth the price. The simplicity and functionality of this site is what overwhelms the browser, making it so easy to browse and to find the answers you need. Therefore, we present the Golden Chalice Award to CATHOLIC ANSWERS, conferring SIX Hail Mary's on this informative site necessary for all to help evangelize the One, True Faith.

The Last Days of Late Advent

     The King of Glory is near; just a few days until His glorious birth. The readings for today and tomorrow reflect this as well as today's CHRISTMAS NOVENA PRAYER


"O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!"
(Add an Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be)
For today's Liturgy for Late Advent, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

MONDAY, December 22, 1997

TUESDAY, December 23, 1997

Tuesday, December 23:
Final Tuesday of Advent


For the Advent Novena Prayer and all prayers up until today, click on ADVENT Novena Prayers

Prayer for December 22, 1997

     More and more people crowded the road. The nights were cold, and the days long. Riding on a donkey was a lot different than riding in a comfortable, heated automobile. Help us, Mary, to recognize that we are often lazy and spoiled, unwilling to make any sacrifice for God, Who lowered Himself to become Man, to be born in an impoverished stable. We are in need of your help, Blessed Mother, to overcome the weakness which is inherent in our characters, that instead we might be strengthened in our faith, made ardent in our love and fervent in our trust.

Medjugorje Monthly Message for November 25th

    Dear children: Today I invite you to comprehend your Christian vocation. Little children, I led and am leading you through this time of grace, that you may become conscious of your Christian vocation. Holy martyrs died witnessing: I am a Christian and love God over everything. Little children, today also I invite you to rejoice and be joyful Christians, responsible and conscious that God called you in a special way to be joyfully extended hands toward those who do not believe, and that through the example of your life, they may receive faith and love for God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray that your heart may open and be sensitive for the Word of God. Thank you for having responded to my call!
For more on Medjugorje, Click on MEDJUGORJE
NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



      HAVANA (CWN) - Cuban Communist President Fidel Castro met with the country's Catholic leaders on Thursday, marking another historic milestone in church-state relations that began with last year's announcement of Pope John Paul's visit in January 1998.

      The Cuban Bishops' Conference met with Castro at the Palace of the Revolution, but government spokesmen declined to discuss the content of the meeting. Castro had told the parliament last weekend that he would be meeting with the Catholic leaders. The event is the first meeting between a high-level government official and Cuba's Catholic bishops in more than ten years, except for planning meetings with Vatican representatives for the Holy Father's visit.

      Other historic changes in the officially atheist government's policies include allowing the celebration of Christmas as a public holiday this year as well as outdoor Masses. The permanent Catholic church committee that met with Castro is headed by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, and includes the Archbishop Pedro Meurice of Santiago, Bishop Adolfo Rodriguez of Camaguey, and Bishop Emilio Aranguren of Cienfuegos.

      In a related story, the archbishop of Miami said on Thursday that he is now thinking of canceling a planned pilgrimage to Cuba next month that would have coincided with a papal visit to the country.

      Archbishop John Favalora made the decision to reconsider after meeting with a group of Cuban exiles who told him that it was morally wrong and offensive for him to plan such a trip. The Archdiocese of Miami is organizing a pilgrimage for US Catholics to travel to Communist Cuba for the papal visit on a chartered cruise ship next month. "The world must witness the pain and division created by an intransigent regime, not a fleeting moment of unity and togetherness portrayed by the cruise," the group of prominent Cuban-Americans said in a letter to Archbishop Favalora published in Thursday's Miami Herald.

      More than 400 people have signed up for the pilgrimage but several hundred spaces are still available. Organizers say sales have been slow because of exile opposition to the trip and uncertainty over whether the Cuban government will issue visas to the pilgrims or allow the ship to dock. The controversy has been complicated by the 35-year-old US embargo of Cuba, along with recently strengthened restrictions, that the exile group said should be honored by America's bishops.

      "The American Church, especially in south Florida, should decry the atrocities committed by the oppressive and intolerant Cuban regime," the group said. They added, however, that they see Pope John Paul's visit to their homeland as a sign of hope for change in Cuba.


      VIENNA (CWN) - The retired bishop of Innsbruck sent a private letter virulently attacking a new Vatican document to his brother bishops in Austria last week, and the missive was then leaked to the media where it was widely published.

      Bishop Reinhold Stecher took issue with a new document that reaffirms the separate roles of clergy and lay workers, defining areas where laity have usurped clerical duties. Bishop Stecher charged that the decree is limited to the defense of "clerical authority, splendor, and professional rights." He also criticized the Church hierarchy for its lack of leadership. "The truly dismaying aspect of all of this ... involves the astonishing theological and pastoral inadequacy of current Church leadership," he said. Addressing the specific directives of the Vatican decree, the bishop said the decreasing numbers of priests requires the laity to play an increasing role in the Church, including preaching homilies during Communion services and administering sacraments such as the Anointing of the Sick.

      Bishop Stecher also singled out Pope John Paul for criticism, saying the Holy Father should be criticized for failing to welcome home priests who have abandoned their vows to be married. He added that the Pontiff has shown a lack of mercy and forgiveness. "All of those who emphasize their love for the Pope and let themselves be praised for their loyalty to the Pope," he said, "should they not be terrified by the words of the Judge of the Worlds when a Pope dies with thousands of rejected applications and petitions for reconciliation?"

      The bishop's letter was obtained by Austrian state television ORF and made public last Friday. Bishop Stecher said the communication was not meant to be made public, but that he stands by his statements. The Holy Father is due to visit Austria next June.


      MELBOURNE, Australia (CWN) - An Australian nun connected to a European dissident movement on Thursday predicted that Archbishop George Pell of Melbourne was headed for disaster because of his traditional view of the Church.

      Sister Roberta Hakendorf of Australians Networking for Reform is on a tour of Australian parishes trying to drum up support for her group that seeks to change Church rules on the ordination of women, married priests, and the ecclesiastical leadership. Hakendorf singled out Archbishop Pell for attention in an address on Thursday, saying the archbishop's opposition to active homosexuality and overhaul of Catholic education has alienated many people. "Pell to me is just an anachronism," she said. "This authoritarian thing is wearisome because it has no future. It's just another nail in the institution."

      The nun said her group represents several thousand Australians and is connected to a European "reform" movement that claims to have collected 2 million signatures on petitions calling for change in the Church. The similar US group, Call To Action, began a petition drive in the US two years ago seeking a million signatures, but ended with only 35,000 total last November.

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"Forsake Wisdom not, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will safeguard you; extol her, and she will exalt you; she will bring you honors if you embrace her; she will put on your head a graceful diadem; a glorious crown will she bestow on you."

Proverbs 4: 6-9

For all other standard features, articles and columns, click on Archives Click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue of the Daily CATHOLIC.

December 22, 1997 volume 8, no. 57         DAILY CATHOLIC

December 1997