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February 13-15, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 32

The Heart rules through the Dove of Love

     This weekend young lovers and old ones as well, plus countless boys and girls will celebrate Valentines Day with the generous exchange of gifts and cards signifying their affection for each other. Before we begin getting carried away with the material things connected with this holiday, why don't we think of where it all started. No, not through Saint Valentine but with his and our Creator - Almighty God Who gave us all breath so that we could live in the heart as Our Lady urges and Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. stresses in his weekly column here. But too often we depend on the mind to rule rather than our hearts. Let us take this occasion to send our Valentine to Jesus and let Him know He is our one-True Love in the sense that all we have is from Him and should be given back to Him by living in total compliance with God's Will. When we do that, the heart rules and the Holy Spirit - the "Dove of Love" can penetrate hardened hearts and soften them to reach out to others in real love, not the psuedo "love" perpetuated by the makers of myth - advertisers and the media who have turned Valentines Day back to the pagan feast it originally was when it was celebrated in ancient Rome as Februata Juno.

Love for Jesus is exemplified in so many ways and He has returned that love a trillion-fold with the gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist. He has also given us a special present in the Shroud of Turin which has survived the most recent tragedy that almost destroyed the precious cloth believed to be the shroud Christ was wrapped in when He was placed in the sepulchre. Sister Mary Lucy Astuto believes it is and she shares her joy in her column today, entitled "The Shroud of Turin Survives!". Click on GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER



by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

The Shroud of Turin Survives!

     I love the Shroud of Turin. I believe it is the authentic Shroud that covered the Body of Jesus in the tomb. Though cynics, unbelievers, and atheists have tried to dissuade public belief in the Shroud, I believe in it with all my heart.

      A part of my belief rests on science, actually. That is, science has proved over 70 things about the Shroud. For example, the image is made with real human blood and perspiration; the image was NOT painted on the Shroud; the image IS of a man that had been scourged, crowned with thorns and crucified; microscopic pollen grains were found imbedded in the Shroud that come from plants that grow only in Palestine. Coins placed on the eyelids of the Person imaged date back to the time of Christ.

      A carbon-dating test done on the Shroud several years ago claimed that the Shroud did not date back to the time of Christ. However, that study has since been invalidated for the simple reason that in the course of its history, the Shroud had been in two fires, one of which was on December 4, 1532. This fire left burn holes on the sides of the Shroud incurred when some silver (from the case in which the Shroud was contained) had melted and fallen onto the edges of the Shroud. In 1534 these burn holes were repaired by some Poor Clare Nuns who had sewed patches into the largest holes and attached a full size backing cloth to the Shroud (known as the Holland Cloth) to strengthen it. All of these "experiences" of the Shroud, the handling of it by the nuns, etc., "contaminated" the Shroud, meaning that an authentic carbon dating test could not be accurate and therefore is invalid.

      But last year, on April 11, 1997, the Shroud survived another fire, a major one, that engulfed the Chapel where the Shroud had once been kept. By Divine Providence, however, the Shroud had been moved four years earlier (February 24, 1993) from that Chapel to a safer place inside the Cathedral while renovation took place in the former sanctuary.

      Aside from the Holy Eucharist, the Shroud is the greatest treasure of Turin, Italy. When firefighters arrived on the scene to battle the blaze, one fireman, Mario Trematore, unable to open the 39mm thick bullet-proof glass by proscribed means, sledge-hammered it to rescue the Shroud. Pieces of masonry from the dome and a shattered wall had already fallen on the silver casket housing the Shroud. Heat had become extreme. But finally, with the aid of other firefighters, the glass was sufficiently broken and the Shroud was carried to safety out of the Cathedral. A thorough examination of the Shroud a few days later revealed no damage whatsoever from its latest threat.

      I am so grateful that God has preserved this wonderful relic for us. What a source for meditation on the sufferings, death, resurrection of Jesus and Godís great love for us.

      In April of this year in Turin, Italy the Shroud will be displayed for public viewing. Most of us will not be able to attend, but we can, through reading, try to become better informed of this great gift from God to us that we might all the more praise and glorify Him for His Goodness to us.

      May your soul take on a clearer image of Jesus to all whom you meet. May God bless you!

Whatever happened to Saint Valentine?

     Today there is little trace of Saint Valentine, the third century priest who was martyred for the faith. You don't hear of him in the plethora of ads for Valentines Day and you don't hear of him anymore in the Church liturgy for he has been "downsized." For this weekend's commentary on this, entitled "Saint Valentine - out of sight, out of mind!" Click on This weekend's CATHOLIC PewPOINT

Saint Valentine - out of sight, out of mind!

     Saturday is Valentine's Day, so have a heart and be my "Cyril and Methodius!" Wait, isn't that supposed to read "Be my Valentine?" Evidently not any more in Church liturgy for in the liturgical calendar the martyred saint who made this day famous has been thrown out. Why? Good question since prior to Vatican II, the priest and martyr Saint Valentine was commemorated on this day and hence the origin of what has become a very lucrative day for greeting card companies, candy makers and florists today. Poor St. Valentine has been lost in the fray, replaced by Saints Cyril and Methodius, whose previous feast was July 7. So who replaced them on July 7th? No one. It remains a weekday in Ordinary Time after Pentecost. So why did the Church depose the legendary St. Valentine and move the Bulgarian missionaries to the coveted spot in which St. Valentine was entrenched? Another good question which we have no answer for and can find none except, like many saints, they were downsized and diminished in importance relating to the liturgy. Before Vatican II, almost every day in the liturgy was devoted to a saint; after the changes wrought by liturgical reformers more days were devoted to the seasonal "ordinary" of the Mass. This transition lost much in the translation, chiefly the example extended daily from each saint as a role model for the faithful. The virtues these saints exemplified are lost on so many today and that is truly sad. Cyril, a bishop, and Methodius, a missionary priest accomplished much, establishing the Slavic language which is called the Cyrillic alphabet and were responsible for countless conversions. But, like so much that the liturgists gutted in regard to Latin, a truly Latin saint has been usurped by a non-Latin one or, in this case, duo. What's even worse is that, at the time, there was much consternation within the Church regarding Cyril and Methodius' abandonment of Latin for the Slav dialect. St. Valentine was a Roman priest and a physician who assisted Saint Marius (another Roman saint who was displaced by ordinary time) in ministering to the physical and spiritual and assisting the many martyrs persecuted under the reign of the vindictive Roman emperor Claudius II, who incarcerated Valentine and made every cruel effort to get the saint to forsake his faith. Valentine would have none of it and thus Claudius ordered the loyal priest be beaten with heavy clubs and beheaded. He was executed on February 14th, 270 and buried on the Flaminian Way, where seventy years later Pope Julius I decreed a basilica be built in his honor. Research by Church historians uncovered the fact Valentine was also the bishop of Terni, sixty miles from Rome, but held his priestly duties above any exalted office in order to better reach the people. The gate leading to the church that was completed in 350 was called Porta Valentini. Most relics attributed to this saint reside in the Church of Saint Praxedes.

     There are many myths about the origin of St. Valentine's Day, but there are also facts that substantiate that it evolved as a Church feast to counteract a Roman pagan feast. Some believe that when Valentine was jailed by Claudius, the children of the martyred parents, relatives and friends sent him notes of love and encouragement. Other historians report that Valentine willingly married young Christian couples even though the Roman authorities forbid it, but Valentine believed it was important to perpetuate life through the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony and procreation as God intended so Christianity could spread from the seeds of the martyrs. Another claim for how Valentines' Day began was that many pastors and bishops demanded it to counter the Roman pagan feast on February 15th of the goddess Februata Juno. On that day the emphasis was on the heathen practice of boys picking the names of girls through a drawing with the outcome being they could do anything lewd and obscene they wished on that feast. Thus the Church unofficially, at first, established St. Valentine's Day to emphasize the virtue of marital love and courtship. From the fourth century on the Church acknowledged St. Valentine's Day on February 14th and in the middle ages, the custom of sending cards or "Valentines" began from the medieval belief that birds, returning from the winter refuge, began pairing on that day.

      Over the years the Christian custom of St. Valentine's Day, evolved from a pagan event, has evolved back to a pagan event with the dropping of the moniker "Saint," becoming almost entirely commercial by the late nineteenth century. Today, as we all know, this feast has not only become a commercial bonanza with no trace of spirituality, but even Holy Mother Church has forsaken poor St. Valentine. Oh, we know he is enjoying his just reward in Heaven, but here on earth we lament a bit for our heart goes out to poor Saint Valentine - out of sight and out of mind!

Michael Cain, editor

Pray and Obey!

     Obedience to the Pope is paramount to all Catholics whether they be cardinals, bishops, priests, religious or laity. The Church has said so and it has been reaffirmed by the Second Vatican II Council as we point out in today's retort to the liberal naysayers who claim we don't have to be obedient to the Holy Father. Wrong! If you're not obedient, suffer the consequences that those in history have faced: excommunication and breakaway sects not in union with Rome. For today's rebuttal to the modernists from the source's mouth - the Vatican II documents on "The Church as Hierarchical", click on VATICAN II VERIFICATIONS

The Church is Hierarchical

     We will resume our segment on the Sacred Liturgy next week with the focus on the ministers of the Word and the Canon of the Mass. However, in relationship with the series begun yesterday on the vision of Saint John Bosco and the vital importance of loyalty to the Pope, we bring you a special segment on the Hierarchy of the Church which proves the Vatican II council fathers did not "downsize" the Pope or diminish his powers as many liberals would lead us to believe. They did not give the bishops power over the Holy Father as so many radicals insist. They did not declare Holy Mother Church a democracy where everybody's voice would have impact as so many modernists clamor for. No, the Second Vatican Council merely reinforced what has always been standard in the Church - the supremacy of the Pope as head of the Church who governs over all! To prove this, we go to the source: the Vatican Council Postconciliar Documents, expertly compiled by the revered Dominican Austin P. Flannery in two volumes.

     The following is taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, Chapter II, pages 375-6, 378-380 on the The Church is Hierarchical , Chapter III. THE CHURCH, Paragraphs 22, 24, and 25.

     The college or body of bishops has for all that no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peterís successor, as its head, whose primatial authority, let it be added, over all whether pastors or faithful, remains in its integrity. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered. The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in their role as teachers and pastors, and in it the apostolic college is perpetuated. Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the universal Church. (27);

but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff. The Lord made Peter alone the rock (Mt. 16:18-19), and constituted him shepherd of his whole flock (cf. Jn. 21:15 ff). It is clear, however, that the office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter (Mt. 16:19), was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head (Mt. 18:18; 28:16-20). (28). This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the multifariousness and universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled under one head. In it the bishops, whilst loyally respecting the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own proper authority for the good of their faithful, indeed even for the good of the whole Church, the organic structure and harmony of which are strengthened by the continued influence of the Holy Spirit. The supreme authority over the whole Church, which this college possesses, is exercised in a solemn way in an ecumenical council. There never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor. And it is the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke such councils, to preside over them and to confirm them. This same collegiate power can be exercised in union with the pope by the bishops while living in different parts of the world, provided the head of the college summon them to collegiate action, or at least approve or freely admit the corporate action of the unassembled bishops, so that a truly collegiate act may result.

     The canonical mission of the bishops, on the other hand, can be made by legitimate customs that have not been revoked by the supreme and universal authority of the Church, or by laws made or acknowledged by the same authority, or directly by Peterís successor himself. Should he object or refuse the apostolic communion, then bishops cannot be admitted to office.

     ...Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishopsí decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated.

     Although the bishops, taken individually, do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, they do, however, proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ on the following conditions: namely, when, even though dispersed throughout the world but preserving for all that amongst themselves and with Peterís successor the bond of communion, in their authoritative teaching concerning matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitively and absolutely. This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith. (41)

     ...The Roman Pontiff head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithfulówho confirms his brethren in the faith (cf.Lk.22:32)...he proclaims in an absolute decision a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. (42)

For that reason his definitions are rightly said to be irreformable by their very nature and not by reason of the assent of the Church, in as much as they were made with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the person of blessed Peter himself; and as a consequence they are in no way in need of the approval of others, and do not admit of appeal to any other tribunal. For in such a case the Roman Pontiff does not utter a pronouncement as a private person, but rather does expound and defend the teaching of the Catholic faith as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the Churchís charism of infallibility is present in a singular way. (43). The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peterís successor, they exercise the supreme teaching office. Now, the assent of the Church ca never be lacking to such definitions on account of the same Holy Spiritís influence through which Christís whole flock is maintained in the unity of the faith and makes progress in it. (44).

Next installment: we will focus on the ministers of the Word and the Canon of the Mass as we resume the Sacred Liturgy segment.

The Apostles of the Slavs

     Friday, Sunday and Monday are all devoted to Ordinary Time, but Saturday is the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, two saints who have replaced Saint Valentine on "his day." Nevertheless, it is not these saints' fault and therefore it is time to pay them reverence in the liturgy Saturday as well as the liturgy for the weekend. Click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

FRIDAY, February 13, 1998

SATURDAY, February 14, 1998


     The Apostles to the Slavs - Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers born in Thessalonica, Greece. Methodius was 12 years older than Cyril but it was Cyril who became a priest first. Shortly after Cyril's ordination, Methodius, who had been governor of a Slav province, became a monk. It was in 862 when the prince of Moravia called for missionaries who could speak the Slavic language to preach to his subjects. Cyril and Methodius were selected and they adapted well, translating Sacred Scripture into the native language and establishing a Slavic alphabet which, to this day, is still called Cyrillic in honor of the saint. Even in those days there were jealousies within the Church and many in the Latin rite criticized the two saints for their method of inculturation. Yet the papacy has always defended these two pillars of the Church from Pope Adrian II to Pope John Paul II who pronounced in his apostolic letter Slavorum Apostoli that the fruits of these two co-patrons of Eastern Europe were an outstanding contribution to the common Christian foundation of Europe. St. Cyril died in Rome on February 14, 869 and his remains are buried below the basilica of St. Clement. St. Methodius survived his brother by 16 years, and drew strength from God in single-handedly fending off the Latin rite opposition, especially the German bishops who were successful in getting Pope John VIII to suspend Methodius' influence and the use of the Slavic language in the Liturgy for a time. However, when Methodius died in 885, his funeral was celebrated in both the Greek and Latin rites as well as the Slavic Liturgy.

SUNDAY, February 15, 1998

MONDAY, February 16, 1998


Today's prayer is a meditation taken from the "Following of Christ" for February 14th:

     O senseless people and unbelieving in heart, to lie buried so deep in earthly things, as to relish nothing but what is carnal! Miserable men! Yet a while, and in the end they will feel bitterly what a worthless thing and nothing it was that they have been loving.

Medjugorje Monthly Message for January 25th

      Dear children! Today again I call all of you to prayer. Only with prayer, dear children, will your heart change, become better, and be more sensitive to the Word of God. Little children, do not permit satan to pull you apart and to do with you what he wants. I call you to be responsible and determined and to consecrate each day to God in prayer. May Holy Mass, little children, not be a habit for you, but life. By living Holy Mass each day, you will feel the need for holiness and you will grow in holiness. I am close to you and intercede before God for each of you, so that He may give you strength to change your heart. Thank you for having responded to my call! For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

686 - 685 - 684 and counting, hoping and praying...

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February 13-15, 1998 volume 9, no. 32          DAILY CATHOLIC

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