January 5, 1998   vol 9, no. 3


Final day of the Twelve Days of Christmas

     Today we complete the Twelfth Day of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and resume our full docket of features, articles and columns that were on hiatus during Christmas and New Year's week.
      The verses of the popular Christmas carol "Twelve Days of Christmas" were, in actuality, a mini-catechism in code for Catholics who were not allowed to practice their faith openly during the time after the Reformation up to the French Revolution. The "True Love" refers to God the Father and each gift is truly a Divine Gift that helped Catholics persevere and perpetuate the tenets of the One, True Faith in the face of great harassment.

Monday, January 5

"On the twelfth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming."

The twelve drummers drumming represented the Twelve Points of Belief in the APOSTLES' CREED It's interesting that Catholics chose drummers for their symbolism for to keep reminding each other of the twelve points of the solid creed known as the Apostles' Creed for this was their profession of faith and there was a constant need to keep hammering home this point or should we say "bang the drum" so fellow Catholics would get the "beat" and get into a rhythm of their religion, encouraged by all Jesus promised and professed in the Creed.


"A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 15: 1

The 40 hour adoration saint remembered on every campus

Today is the feast of Saint John Neumann who is chiefly responsible for bringing Forty Hour Adoration to the United States and establishing the parochial school system at the diocesan level. He is remembered on college campuses everywhere with the Neumann Centers where Catholic students can find an oasis of the faith in the midst of the secular world. Click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

MONDAY, January 5, 1998

SAINT JOHN NEUMANN, Bishop, Missionary Religious, and Educator

     The practice of Forty Hours Devotion in the United States can be attributed to a Czechoslovakian in the nineteenth century who came to our shores to become a Redemptorist priest and foster Catholic schools and education throughout the U.S.A. This man was Saint John Neumann, born on March 28, 1811 and ordained in 1936. In 1852 he was appointed bishop of Philadelphia where he worked tirelessy to establish the Catholic school system in America. He labored especially with European immigrants in mind. He spoke twelve languages fluently and wrote numerous books and two catechisms as well as a Bible History for the students. His was a life of firsts, becoming the first Redemptorist to make his profession in America and the first bishop from America to be ordained a saint. He died on January 5, 1860 just as the Civil War was breaking out, but he was not forgotten and his legacy has served many a college student through the years with almost each college campus throughout the country providing a Catholic oasis for the students known as "Neumann clubs." He was ordained in 1977 by Pope Paul VI.

TUESDAY, January 6, 1998


      Credited with countless cures, Canadian-born Blessed Andre Bessette, a Holy Cross Brother was born in 1845 into a family of twelve. At the age of twelve he became an orphan when his parents died and helped care for his brothers and sisters by working in mills and farms in New England before returning to Montreal in 1870. At the age of 25 he joined the Holy Cross Order as a Lay Brother. Never educated and of poor health, Andre did not let that deter him from fulfilling God's Will in the simplest of ways. Though he was first rejected by the Holy Cross Fathers after his novitiate, the Bishop of Montreal intervened and suggested that he become a lay brother with the Order. For the next 67 years he devoted himself to the menial, but spiritually rewarding jobs of porter and gardener. Through the grace of God those who came in contact with this holy man were cured and word quickly spread of his fame. While he was helping build a shrine to Saint Joseph in Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory, he contined as porter at the College of Notre Dame in that Canadian city. For 40 years he held this responsibility until demand was so great for Brother Andre to be at the shrine that the Holy Cross Order transferred him over there. Millions of pilgrims flooded the shrine with countless cures physically and spiritually occurring regularly when they came in contact with this holy, humble man of God. They flocked to him for spiritual direction. He received over 80,000 letters a year and insisted on corresponding with the people, but could not read or write and so he dictated the letters, many through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to a plethora of secretaries hired to handle the phenomenal responses to Blessed Andre. Through word of mouth and devotion, this shrine has since become the most well-known shrine to the protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus in the world. It was already the best known in North America when Brother Andre succumbed of old age at 92 in 1937. Eighteen years later the Oratory was solemnly dedicated and declared a minor basilica. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

The Church provides answers in a secular world

We follow up last month's six-week series on the Instructions to the Laity from the Holy See with a look back at the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici on the role the laity must play. We begin our first installment of this series, expertly analyzed by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas with the first five of Twenty Questions the laity might ask. Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

The Vicar of Christ Speaks

INTRODUCTION: In this "Lay Person's Guide to the Pope's Encyclicals" we catch a synopsis of the Holy Father's wisdom adroitly capsulized by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, Ph.D. In his Papal Exhortation "Christifideles Laici", the Holy Father exhorts the laity to faithfulness. It is appropriate we follow-up November's pertinent document from the Holy See on Instructions to the Laity and Priests on abuses, by reinforcing the Pope's teachings with this Apostolic Exhortation imparted ten years ago. Now ten years later, after the "ten year period of grace" Our Blessed Mother spoke of to Father Don Stefano Gobbi back in 1988, we revisit this important letter from the supreme pontiff and, through the expert analysis of Dr. Bagiackas his holiness' words will be clearer and more simple to understand and most meaningful in these times when there are so many who, rather than pulling together for God's Will, are pulling apart within the laity. The eminent prelate from New York John Cardinal O'Connor has said of Dr. Bagiackas' work: "These summations will draw the reader closer to knowing God and will encourage broader readership of the writings of this remarkable Pope." BELOW: the first installment of Christifideles Laici: Twenty Questions We Laity Ask about the Lay Apostolate - First Five Questions

A Lay Person's Guide to Pope John Paul II's Teaching on the Laity

by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas

To read the entire Apostolic Letter click on Christifideles Laici

first installment:

Twenty Questions We Laity Ask about the Lay Apostlate - First Five Questions

      The order in which these questions are asked follows the orders of the topics discussed in Christifideles Laici.

Question 1. Do I really have to do more for the Church beyond living as a good Catholic? I'm pretty busy. I've got all I can handle.

ANSWER. Yes, we laity are obliged to be active in the Church's mission, in spite of the difficulties involved. This has always been true, but today it is more important than ever for laity to be active in the apostolate. The temporal realm, where the lay apostolate is ordinarily conducted, has changed. It has much more impact on our Christian lives than in the past, and we laity are in the best position to witness to Christ there.

Question 2.When the Church talks about the "temporal realm," or "secular world," what does it mean? How has the world changed? Why is my active participation in the Church's mission more necessary than before?

ANSWER. The "secular world" or "temporal realm" is life outside of Churchly affairs like Mass, the sacraments, prayer, religious formation, and so on. It is not necessarily bad, but it needs to be redeemed by Christian activity. It has changed because the Church leaders of the past were able to directly influence the life of society in general, but this is no longer the case. Also, it is more dominant in one's daily life than in past times, when life was much harder and there was little time for leisure, culture, travel, and the like. We laity are in the best position to directly influence today's world.

Question 3. What are the main problems we laity face in today's world?

ANSWER. There are many problems that need work. The Pope most often mentions secularism, which is the attempt to shut out God and religion completely from public life. Attacks on the dignity of the person and increasing threats to peace in many places are two other major concerns most often mentioned by the Pope.

Question 4. What does the Church mean by "the laity?" Are we the non-experts in the Church, as opposed to the priests, sisters, and brothers? Are we the amateurs when it comes to religious matters, who passively do what we are told? Is that what the word "laity" means?

ANSWER. There are four parts to the Church's definition. Lay persons are all Catholics except for clergy and religious. A lay person is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, through being baptized. We lay persons are called to be the Lord's representative in the temporal realm, reflecting Christ's priestly, prophetic, and kingly office. And we laity are defined by the "secular character" of our lives. This means that, as Catholics, we stay in our natural environment and redeem it, while the clergy and religious leave their natural environs to follow their vocation in life.

Question 5. What about being holy? Isn't that something for priests, sisters, monks, and brothers?

ANSWER. The call to holiness, to follow Christ with one's whole heart, mind, and strength, is for everyone. The lay call is more hidden than priestly or religious holiness, because it is lived out in ordinary circumstances of life.

Next week: The Second Set of Questions.

Jubilee 2000 celebrates the Year of the Holy Spirit

We begin the Year of the Spirit in the countdown toward the millennium and Jubilee 2000 by reviewing a site dedicated to Jubilee 2000. Click on SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK


A spirited site for the Year of the Holy Spirit

      It is only fitting that as we begin the "Year of the Holy Spirit" - the second leg of the three year preparation leading up to the millennium which the Holy Father has designated Jubilee 2000 - by reviewing a site dedicated specifically to this celebration. That site is appropriately called "Jubilee 2000" at and conducted by Father Richard W. Gant, S.T.D. (Angelicum), J.U.L. (Lateran). Father Richard also heads the Joan of Arc Television and Radio network, a Spanish broadcasting wave reaching the missions in Belize, Central America where the poverty is legendary and faith needed. He also represents and explains the relatively new order of priests from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, founded by Father Jim Flanagan on Lake Corpus Christi, Texas. But the main thrust of this website is towards Jubilee 2000. At this site you can find out just about everything you want to know about this three year program from Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter announcing and detailing Jubilee 2000 - Tertio Millennio Adveniente ("As the Third Millennium Draws Near") - to diocesan and parish level events, devotions, etc.

      The site is simple to navigate and smartly designed. The graphics are few but the look, typography and accouterments say graphically balanced to a tee. Father Richard offers a discussion group as well as past articles from various sources on the Jubilee plus links to other resources on Jubilee 2000 - such as some we have previously awarded the "Golden Chalice Award" to: the Vatican Web Site, EWTN, and ChristusRex. In addition there are other sources on preparing for the millenium from Synods to pastoral tools and tips for the laity. This "Jubilee 2000" web site is a smart site with the basics for both research and edification. The one setback, it does take longer than normal for some pages to download but as cable and ISDN lines come into vogue, that shouldn't be a problem. Therefore we hereby present the "Golden Chalice Award" to Father Richard Gant and his Jubilee 2000 site, giving it THREE Hail Mary's.

Remedies for clearing the blockage caused by "Spiritual Cholesterol"

We resume our columns this week with Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. and his advice on being better prepared to pray with and from the heart. Today he gives us the cure for eradicating the "spiritual cholesterol" that blocks our ability to pray with all our heart. Click on HEARTS TO HEART TALK


How to Pray with the Heart
part fifteen

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

INTRODUCTION: "Hearts-to-heart Talk" is a compendium of talks & writings on "How to Pray with the Heart" by the popular Franciscan from upstate New York - Father Stephen Valenta, O.F.M. Conv. and will be a regular column in each on-line issue. This quiet, sincere priest, with over 45 years in pastoral care and in the radio/television ministry, will touch your heart as he pinpoints the "how to's" of praying with and from the heart. In his fifteenth column, his eighth in the DAILY CATHOLIC he gives us the remedy for clearing up "spiritual cholesterol."

   Fr. Stephen's column along with columns by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto and Father John H. Hampsch, C.M.F. promise simple, but effective and vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. You can reach Fr. Valenta at Hearts to heart Center at P.O. Box 212, Rensselaer, New York, 12144 or you can reach him at (518) 434-1723.

How to Pray with the Heart

Part Fifteen: The remedy for clearing the blockages caused by "spiritual cholesterol."

      In order for one to be able to give pleasure to Our Lady, measures need to be taken which will clear up whatever blockages one might find within one's spirit. The task, a difficult one, and one that is time consuming, can be aided along by recourse to the Holy Spirit with a prayer such as, "Dear Holy Spirit, please help me to ask for the help which my soul needs most. I do wish to pray with the heart and yet I know that I am offering resistance to you. I ask you sincerely to work on my soul together with Your Spouse, the Virgin Mother, and make of it a place wherein You will feel comfortable to do Your sanctifying work." A prayer such as this will not be despised, but be most quickly answered. Sincerity is the key inner disposition needed, the sincerity of a little child.

      There needs to be in all of us a growth into littleness. It means that one must look for and expect a change. Who can better express need than a little child? A child trusts instinctively; a mother responds instinctively to the needs of the child. It is the expression of total dependence that moves the Holy Spirit to action. Trust and total dependence, as coming forth from a child, open the floodgates of grace. It seems almost paradoxical that one must pray with the heart to obtain the grace to pray with the heart. It is comforting and hopeful to know that even the prayer to be able to pray with the heart already has, as its Author, the Holy Spirit, and His chief promoter, His Spouse.

      In my next installment I will begin speaking about something we seemingly have lost today - Reverence - and how we can retrieve it.

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.

Click here to print out SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue of the Daily CATHOLIC.

January 5, 1998 volume 9, no. 3          DAILY CATHOLIC

January 1998