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THURSDAY

February 19, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 36



Mass Appeal for Big Blue or a Pentecost for your thoughts!

     Even though Lent is less than a week away, the commentary today deals with the time after Easter - Pentecost to be exact and the news that the bishop of Lexington, Kentucky is going to rent out the big "blue" - Rupp Arena - for Mass on Pentecost Sunday. Sounds great until one digs further and discovers all other churches in the diocese are to be closed so that all will be funneled to the University of Kentucky. Something just doesn't sound right about this and we examine it in today's editorial "No Masses for the masses unless the masses mass for Mass?", click on Today's CATHOLIC PewPOINT

No Masses for the masses unless the masses mass for Mass?

     We're not even to Lent yet and today we're going to speak about Pentecost Sunday. Talk about getting ahead of ourselves! Actually, we need to in order to hope there is groundswell support for Bishop James Kendrick Williams, ordinary of Lexington, Kentucky to abandon his plans to cancel all Masses in his diocese on Pentecost Sunday this year. You heard right. Bishop Williams, a native Kentuckian and graduate of St. Mary's College, who also served as auxiliary bishop under the liberal Bishop William A. Hughes in Covington, Kentucky before being appointed to head the Lexington Diocese ten years ago, made the drastic Pentecost Sunday announcement on January 28th.

     His motives are to have one singular Mass at the University of Kentucky's famed Rupp Arena on Pentecost Sunday to emphasize "the oneness of us all." That is commendable that he wants to use the Wildcats' hardwood to stage a convention-like Mass on this day. However, he fails to grasp the consequences of his edict. First of all, Rupp Arena will only hold 23,000 people. The diocese numbers over 42,000 Catholics spaced out over 67 parishes and missions that span 50 counties in the central and eastern regions of the bluegrass state. What he is asking is unfair to Catholics and could be a sign of things to come: Mass-less Sundays. He is allowing the Saturday vigil Masses to be celebrated in each Church on May 30th, but come May 31st, which is not only Pentecost Sunday but also the normal feast in the liturgy of the Visitation of Mary, the churches will be locked tight. Think of it, no visits to Mary's Divine Son on a day when the Church celebrates the birthday of the Church and the emphasis on visiting through the example of the Visitation.

     The bishop rationalizes that, "it is an opportunity for us to celebrate our faith. If we are going to make a statement of faith, I thought there's only one way to do that." His idea of staging a Mass at Rupp arena is understandable, but please, Bishop Williams, don't close down the rest of the churches for the sake of one! Do the Marian Conferences demand all the churches close down when they hold Mass at the conventions? Of course not. Yet they are most often well-attended. But to force everyone who can't make Mass on Saturday night to go to Rupp Arena on Sunday seems a tremendous inconvenience. Consider the importance of the individual parishes as focal points of the Church. On further examination of Bishop Williams' intent, it would seem he's more interested in turning out the numbers when he states, "I wake up at night saying. 'Why am I doing this?' Suppose we only have 5,000 people there? But I'm very optimistic. I think it would be wonderful if we had to consider some closed-circuit TV to take care of the crowds." Whoa, now the faithful are "crowds?" Isn't he forgetting that a televised Mass does not complete the obligation of Holy Mass but is only for edification and devotion. The beautiful, reverent Masses on EWTN are truly edifying and fulfilling, but they do not fulfill the obligation of being there physically in order to receive the full graces of the celebration of the Eucharist. If Rupp Arena would overflow as the bishop hopes for, then he would have to hold another Mass or open up a church or two. Why not keep them all open and ask people to voluntarily come to Rupp Arena. Better yet, hold the Mass in the afternoon and allow people to go to Mass twice on Pentecost Sunday. It's been done before and that would be a far more newsworthy and stunning victory for Catholics in the Lexington Diocese and reflect well on their shepherd.

     Lost in the shuffle of this announcement is that this is supposed to coincide with the establishment of the Lexington Diocese which will be ten years old this year. But the actual date of the anniversary is not May 31, but rather March 2nd. Why not do it then? It will be the first Monday of Lent and not an obligatory day for Catholics, yet those who truly want to can attend Mass at a large facility. If you close the churches on one day, other than Sunday, it wouldn't be as bad. Many are closed during the week anyway; many priests have an "off day" during the week. Why they can't say Mass even on their day off is still beyond us. We remember Father Ken Roberts and Father Svetozar Kraljevic, OFM personally telling us that the day they don't say Mass would be a sad day. Anyway, be that as it may, what would be the problem with staging the celebration on the exact anniversary? Oh the bishop most probably wouldn't get Rupp Arena; conflicting schedules with classes, basketball practice and other venues would prevent this. But surely, the bishop could celebrate it in a large church, auditorium, or something of that nature. But, please, Bishop Williams, for the sake of the faithful of Lexington, don't close the churches to the parishioners on the Lord's Day.

     Statistics reveal that only 50% of the 42,000 Catholics attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis. That means 21,000 don't. Even those numbers wouldn't fill Rupp Arena. Therefore, in all due respect, Bishop Williams, we offer an alternative. To help bring those other 21,000 lost sheep back, celebrate Mass in each different parish each week. Promotion and publicity can generate from both the diocesan and parish level and bring them back. There you can make it a year-long celebration in accord with the Jubilee celebrations established by Rome. There you can be more personal and touch them in their own familiar, cozy surroundings rather than a cavernous arena where the only words they hear are echoed to the far regions of section 44 in "nosebleed heaven." In other words, the impersonality of Rupp Arena - with no disrespect to its namesake the venerable old coach Adolph Rupp - is hardly the kind of atmosphere to rekindle the flame of faith on Pentecost Sunday. Please, Bishop Williams, rethink your idea of this as a "statement of faith" for a better statement of faith would be to counsel your priests to teach and preach the true teachings of Holy Mother Church and the necessity of loyalty to the Holy Father, to impress upon them the importance of the Sacraments - especially the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Too many priests in too many parishes in too many dioceses only hear confession for a half hour or hour at most weekly. Yet on Sundays the whole Church floods up to the altar in rote manner to receive Holy Communion. Do they truly know Who they are receiving and the state their souls must be in to worthily receive Him? Help your priests to educate the people on what the Church teaches about the Sacraments and the need to receive them often and worthily. Encourage eucharistic adoration and the Rosary as worthy and very important devotions, for truly they are. If you, and many of your other most reverend colleagues across the land, do this - a little at a time - then, Bishop Williams, you will truly see an increase in Catholics returning to Mass regularly. It's already been proven in college towns like yours such as Lincoln, Nebraska with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Peoria, Illinois with Bishop John Myers and in Rapid City, South Dakota where Archbishop Charles Chaput was before taking the helm of the Archdiocese of Denver. That would be a much better alternative than following through on your edict for Pentecost of no Masses for the masses unless the masses mass for Mass!

Michael Cain, editor

The last days of Ordinary Time before Lent

     Today and tomorrow are the last consecutive days of Ordinary Time until after Pentecost. For the liturgies, meditations and readings, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

THURSDAY, February 19, 1998


FRIDAY, February 20, 1998


PRAYERS & DEVOTION

The prayer today is for An Offering of the Eucharist

      God our Father, Your light of truth guides us to the way of Christ. May we who wish to follow Him reject what is contrary to His Gospel. We offer You the Eucharist to the glory of Your Name. May it make us pure and holy and bring us closer to eternal life. May we never fail to praise You for the life and salvation You give us for the Sacrament of the Altar.

PROVERB OF THE DAY

"It is the Lord's blessing that brings wealth, and no effort can substitute for it."

Proverbs 10: 22

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

680 and counting, hoping and praying...


WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

HEADLINES:

CANONIZATION DECREE PUBLISHED FOR EDITH STEIN

     VATICAN (CWN) -- The formal decree of the canonization of Edith Stein, the noted Jewish philosopher who after her conversion became a Carmelite nun, was published yesterday in Acta Apolostica Sedis, the official record of actions of the Holy See.

      Blessed Theresa Benedicta, as she was known to her Carmelite sisters, was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 1, 1987. In May of 1997 the cause for her canonization cleared its last hurdle when the Holy Father-- on the recommendation of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints-- formally recognized that a miracle had occurred as a result of her intercession. The miracle involved the healing of a young Massachusetts girl who had been named in her honor: Theresa Benedicta McCarthy-- the daughter of a married Eastern-rite Catholic priest.

      No date has been set for formal canonization ceremonies, although an unofficial source suggested that it could be October 11, 1998.

      Born in 1891 in what was then the German city of Breslau (and is now known as Wroclaw, Poland), Edith Stein became a brilliant student of the noted philosopher Edmund Husserl. After reading the autobiography of St. Theresa of Avila she converted to Catholicism, and devoted herself to the study of Sts. Thomas Aquinas and John of the Cross.

      As the Nazi drive to eliminate Judaism became more pronounced, her superiors moved her from Germany to Echt, in Holland-- along with her sister Rosa, who had joined her in the Carmelite community, although she (Rosa) had not yet made vows. However, after the Dutch bishops protested against the persecution of Jews, the Nazi occupying forces responded by arresting thousands of Jews in Holland, the Stein sisters among them. Edith Stein-- Sister Theresa Benedicta-- died in an Auschwitz gas chamber on August 9, 1942.


CHURCH MEDIATION IS CRUCIAL IN CHIAPAS BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF VIOLENCE

      VATICAN (CWN) Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of San Cristobal de las Casas, in the troubled Mexican state of Chiapas, has underlined the need for Church mediation to help settle the conflict between the Mexican government and the Zapatista rebels in that region.

      Bishop Ruiz, who is traveling in Italy, stressed that the help of the Church is more important than ever to safeguard the Indian population in the southern state, which borders on Guatemala and is the site of some of the most severe poverty in Mexico. In an interview with the Italian daily Avvenire, he said that he would not discontinue his efforts to mediate the conflict, despite the death threats which he continues to receive.

      The bishop said that the accords now in place between the Zapatistas and the federal government are only a temporary solution. The Indians are insisting on guarantees that mistreatment of their people will be stopped, and political prisoners released. While awaiting the government's response, he pointed out, they have held faithfully to a cease-fire agreement. But the Indians have been badly shaken by a massacre that took place on December 22, in which 45 people-- including many women and children-- were gunned down by forces sympathetic to the Mexican ruling party, apparently because they lived in a village which was believed to have Zapatista sympathies.

      Meanwhile, in Mexico City the Mexican Catholic Conference of Bishops issued a message this week rejecting any violent solution for the conflict in Chiapas state and requesting a deepening of the dialogue "in an environment of confidence."

      The document condemned the wave of violent confrontations and murders that have shaken the southern state of Chiapas, and said that "only through dialogue and negotiations will peace be achieved in the region and in the whole country." Nevertheless, the bishops said that there is a difference between "true dialogue" and "useless conversations," saying that the most recent "have been carried out with intentions of personal or political gains." The bishops demanded in the letter the reestablishment of the negotiations between the government and the Marxist Zapatista rebels and said that in order to have a fruitful conversation "all have to cooperate in creating an environment of mutual confidence, peace, and respect for life."

      "We strongly believe that the problem of Chiapas can only be resolved by peace and reconciliation," said Bishop Luis Reynoso Cervantes, spokesman for the Mexican Bishops' Conference. "We have seen over the years that any effort to solve social injustice or political differences by violence have only lead to more violence and to no real solution." He added, "Very frequently violence in the region is totally artificial, created by groups in order to foster their interests. But the consequences are always paid by the poor." He also confirmed that the bishops' conference's agenda for its annual meeting in April will include discussing a proposal to overcome the dead-end that talks have entered.


AILING CHILEAN CARDINAL ANNOUNCES SURPRISE RESIGNATION

     SANTIAGO, Chile (CWN) - Cardinal Carlos Oviedo Cabada of Santiago, a key figure in the Church in South America, made a surprise announcement this week that Pope John Paul has accepted his resignation submitted as a consequence of an unnamed degenerative disease.

      The 70-year-old cardinal played a key role in the Chile's political process of transition from General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship to democratic government and was regarded as the person who contributed most in a process of "justice without revenge" by proposing and leading the Commission of Justice and Reconciliation that investigated human rights violations during the dictatorship.

      Cardinal Oviedo told reporters that because of a "degenerative disease" he has submitted his resignation and suggested that Auxiliary Bishop Sergio Valech be named Apostolic Administrator of Chile's most important archdiocese. "It is painful to end my apostolic mission in such an unexpected way, but it is clear that Jesus Christ wants me to join him in another ministry, the one of the Cross," said Cardinal Oviedo. "I joyfully accept the participation in this ministry and thank the Lord for it."

      He explained that he has a disease of the muscles that will affect his capacity to move and breathe. "It could happen in the short, medium, or long term, only God knows, but I don't want to have the Church in Santiago dependant on this process," he added. The cardinal, a Mercedarian, will move to the same monastery in Santiago in which he lived after he was ordained.

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February 19, 1998 volume 9, no. 36          DAILY CATHOLIC