December 8, 1997   vol 8, no.47

     SECTION TWO     To print out SECTION ONE, click here

The Immaculate Heart makes it easier to Pray with the Heart

      The tears of a mother can move us in many ways and the tears of our Heavenly Mother move us to pray more sincerely from and with the heart as Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. explains in his eleventh installment of his column Heart to Hearts Talk on steps to being better able to pray with the heart. Click on How Tears can move us to Pray

Part Eleven: How Tears can move us to Pray

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

      Why do you think that our Heavenly Mother, filled with the Holy Spirit, having the fullness of Wisdom, finds it so necessary to keep on badgering us to PRAY WITH THE HEART? Why does she allow herself to become so helpless as to have to resort to tears, at times even tears of blood? It is because she is dealing with persons made to the image of God with the power to make up one's own mind and the power to choose freely what one does. It is because as her children, we still carry within ourselves the effects of the connection with our first Mother, Eve. For Our Lady, then, it is out of bounds to scream, manipulate, twist arms and/or use any form wof what might even smell of the slightest bit of coersion. The Blessed Virgin is simply making the best use of that which has at her disposal - pleading and tears.

     In my own early days of formation, and sometimes even years after, a ply of the spanking hand of my mother helped to get me and keep me in line. Yet, there was nothing that moved me quicker to surrender than her tears. These worked wonders! I could not stand to see her cry. What was it within me so base, so hard, that could be melted only by witnessing a breakdown on her part? It was, as I learned later, my fallen human nature.

     What I know now and did not know in my youth, at least by way of experience, is the fact that I came into the world damaged. My mind was dark, and so, quite dull, and my will was weak, and so, quite uncontrollable. I thrived on ego power and made its use my chief motivation for action. If what was asked of me suited me and enhanced that power, I responded quickly and easily. If what was asked of me seemed to me to lessen the expression of that power, I responded quickly and easily. If what was asked of me seemed to me to lessen the expression of that power, it took more than a team of horses to get me to obey. I found out that sulking, pouting and throwing tantrums got me nowhere, thanks to my mother's firmness and gentle tears. As I think of it now, it was much the same with me and Holy Mother Church. When she threatened me with mortal sin if I did not take up the penance of Friday abstinence, I responded more readily. Now, when she merely lovingly suggests that I do so, I find it much harder to go her way.

     People of the world at large find themselves in the same difficulty when faced with the gentle and even comforting Words of the Gospel. This I will treat next week in the next installment in showing you some measures, when taken seriously, can help one to Pray 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.

Penance can be called many things

     The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the topic of review in our continuing daily series (except Fridays) of the catechetical teachings from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism as we continue, today highlighting the different terms people refer to on this wonderful healing sacrament. Advent is the perfect time to review this special sacrament which Jesus left us so that we could truly love Him and our neighbor. Click on CATECHISM CAPSULES

Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

    The Sacraments are part and parcel of our lives and so we continue our "capsule series" on each of the Sacraments, bringing you a few capsule paragraphs each day from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism. It is appropriate that we begin Advent with the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, better known as "Confession." There are various terms for this sacrament of healing. It has often been called the key to the door, for without this key sacrament we cannot receive Jesus in Holy Communion nor can a candidate be confirmed. The Sacrament of Penance reminds us of our humanness and our total dependence on the Mercy of God. Along with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick or Extreme Unction, Penance/Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing.

No. 1422 , 1423, and 1424, page 357 and 358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery; Chapter Two - The Sacraments of Healing; Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Urbi Et Orbi Communications:

     It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from Whom one has strayed by sin.

     It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

     It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of His Mercy toward sinful man.

     It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."

     It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God Who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled with your brother."

From the Baltimore Catechism No. 3; Benziger Brothers, Inc. and Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Nos. 733 and 735, page 152 and 153.

Q. How do you know that the priest has the power of absolving from the sins committed after Baptism?
A. Because Jesus Christ granted that power to the priests of His Church when He said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."

Q. Was the power to forgive sins given to the apostles alone?
A. The power to forgive sins was not given to the apostles alone, because it was not given for the benefit merely of those who lived at the time of the apostles, but for all who, having grievously sinned, after Baptism, should need forgiveness. Since, therefore, Baptism will be given till the end of time, and since the danger of sinning after it always remains the power to absolve from such sins must also remain in the Church till the end of time.


For the Advent Novena Prayer, click on ADVENT Novena Prayers

December 8, 1997


PRAYER for November 30: First Sunday of Advent

December 1: First Monday of Advent

How you worked, Mary, to prepare for the Coming of your Son and the Father's. You were caught up in the Divine Wonder of the Coming of the Messiah. He Whom your people had awaited for many generations. Intercede for us, dear Mother, that we, too, may realize that your Son can be born anew in us this Christmas, and that He must be born anew in all the world if mankind is to turn away from evil.

December 2: First Tuesday of Advent

Mary, our Mother and Mother of all the world, you, too, anticipated the birth of your Son. As you prayed and worked through each day, so help us to do the same, giving our lives to your Son through your intercession. We also beseech St. Joseph your most chaste spouse to come to our aid, as we strive to prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus Christ. We call upon you, our dear Mother, to make us mindful of these days, helping us to bring to light all that is within us which keeps us from unity to your Son.

December 3: First Wednesday of Advent

The days pass, and you go about your daily tasks, always in a state of God's Peace. We lack that peace within ourselves, Mother, because we are so overwhelmed by the demands of our world, by preparations for a worldly Christmas. Pray for us, Heavenly Mother, that we might rid ourselves of inordinate desires, seeking only Jesus and His Kingdom, which came upon the earth through your Fiat to God.

December 4: First Thursday of Advent

Heavenly Mother, today we ask you to remember all the things of our lower human ego, our lower human passions, which are a hindrance to us in our spiritual life. Today we ask you to intercede for us that we may recognize our weakness in regard to our intelligence. Let us be mindful of this great gift which is from God, and to order our thoughts so to think only of Him, for Him, and with Him, according to His Will, not our own.

December 5: First Friday of Advent

St. Joseph, we beseech you, in this season of Advent, to help us prepare more properly for the Coming of Jesus Christ. You believed, St. Joseph, in the Divine Birth and in the virginity of Mary, your holy spouse. You watched in awe as the pregnancy came to full term, and thanked God for the privilege given to you, to be the guardian of Mary and of Jesus. Help us to overcome our lack of faith, that we too might learn to seek Him in all things.

December 6: First Saturday of Advent

Heavenly angels and saints, you look down upon us in our earthly journey, this place of sorrow, and recognize what we are still striving to see - the Divinity of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior. We beseech you to help us to raise our hearts to Heaven, where they might be touched by Divine Love. Then, aflame with love, may we work ceaselessly to prepare not only our own hearts, but our whole world to proclaim Jesus as King and Messiah.

December 7: Second Sunday of Advent

Heavenly Father, with what Love did you send Your Only Begotten Son to earth. With what Love did You watch over Your beloved daughter, Mary, who carried Jesus in her Immaculate womb. Heavenly Father, as we begin the second week of Advent, we ask You to help us to sweep away the cobwebs of lukewarmness from our minds and our hearts by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us, and upon all the world.

Medjugorje Monthly Message

November 25th Message

    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



     ATLANTA (CWN) - US health officials reported on Thursday that the ratio of abortions to pregnancies in 1995 dropped to its lowest level since 1976.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in the latest available figures there were 311 surgical abortions per 1,000 live births. That number translates to 1,210,883 aborted children in 1995, compared to 1,429,577 in 1990 which was the peak year for abortions. Among women aged 15 to 44, there were 20 abortions per 1,000 women overall, also the lowest rate since 1975. Lisa Koonin, chief of surveillance in the CDC's Division of Reproductive Health, said possible reasons for the decline include "potential reduced access to abortion services, attitudinal changes concerning the decision to have an abortion or carry a pregnancy to term, and a reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies that was noted in the mid-1990s."

      Of women obtaining abortions in 1995, 60 percent were white and 35 percent were black. Fifteen percent were Hispanic. Almost 80 percent were single, and about 20 percent were married. One-fifth of the women were aged 19 or under, while one-third were aged 20 to 24, the CDC said. The agency said 54 percent of abortions were performed during the first eight weeks of pregnancy and 88 percent were performed during the first 12 weeks.


      PERTH,Australia (CWN) - Australia's Aborigines called on Pope John Paul to intercede on their behalf with the federal government which is formulating a landmark land reform law.

      The Swan Valley Nyungah Community said the appeal to Holy Father was a sign of their desperation over the issue and was made directly to the Vatican because legislators have tried to silence local church leaders who oppose the government plan. The 10-point "Wik" law -- named for a court decision last year that said current land leases do not completely extinguish native title -- would force thousands of Aborigines off their traditional lands, according to elder Robert Bropho.

      Bropho added that while studies had been conducted on the likely effect of native title law change on mining and agricultural industries, none had been conducted on the potential impact on indigenous people. The letter to the Holy Father, sent via Internet email, said the Catholic Church should not participate in the government's amendments to the Native Title Act, which was "cold-blooded murder" to the original owners.


     VATICAN CITY (CWN) - The United States' new ambassador to the Vatican arrived in Rome on Wednesday and said that as the first woman envoy to the Holy See she will try to represent women's interests.

      Corinne "Lindy" Boggs, 81, a former US representative from Louisiana, said her plane was struck twice by lightning as it was descending into Rome. "It's a great welcome into this beautiful city on this magnificent assignment to be struck by lightning twice on the plane," she told reporters at Rome airport. "So, there must be some sign that tells me that this is going to be a great and glorious adventure on which I am embarking."

      When a reporter asked her how she felt about being a women envoy to "an institution run by men," Boggs replied: "I've had several firsts as a woman. I'm very proud of what women are doing everywhere. I was very happy to represent their needs and desires and their hopes and I look forward to being able to do the same thing in this position." Boggs also expressed her admiration for Pope John Paul. "He is obviously truly a holy person and he expresses that holiness with great joy," she said. "I look forward to working with the Holy Father in the coming years, especially to help usher in the new millennium."


"He who is a friend is always a friend, and a brother is born for the time of stress."

Proverbs 17: 17

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December 8, 1997 volume 8, no. 47         DAILY CATHOLIC

December 1997