January 7, 1998   vol 9, no. 5    (No Section Two today)


"Do whatever He tells you."

     Those words, uttered by the Blessed Mother to her Divine Son at the wedding feast at Cana, are the focus of today's installment of our on-going megaseries on the phenomenon of Public and private revelation, manifested so acutely in these last days of the second millennium. Because of the advanced technology of our time, clutter more easily clouds our minds and hearts and makes it tougher to communicate with God. In the fifty-first installment entitled How to clean up the clutter: "Do whatever He tells you." we show the formula for fulfilling the fiat God asks of all His children. Click on The Age of Marian Apparitions

How to clear up the static: "Do whatever He tells you."

Installment Fifty-one
      Today our world has "instant" communication via telephone, fax, satellite, TV, radio and now cyberspace. We are inundated with "news" that constantly occupies our minds. While it's natural for us to wish to e well-informed, we have a great tendency to concentrate on the least important aspect of communication, which is our daily, constant communication with Almighty God.

      However, we've become so immune to the real need and reason for communication that we aren't aware God does speak to everyone of us. It is the Divine Will of God that He speaks to us, and we, in turn should not only speak to Him, our Father, but also listen! And by listening, we learn! But are we really listening and learning?

     Perhaps this is where we've all gone astray in the development of our faith-filled lives. Perhaps we've forgotten the essential element of listening, clearly with an unclouded heart, to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the Voice of God which speaks to our hearts as Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. keeps hammering home weekly in his column at this site - "Hearts to Heart Talk. If we are not truly praying with and from the heart, and most of us have not mastered this special "art" yet because of all the static, then we have not truly "listened" to the messages given to us through Sacred Scripture; we have not truly "listened" to the Dogmas and Doctrines of Holy Mother Church; we have not truly "listened" to the messages Our Lady has imparted down through the ages, even to the present moment. She - the Ark of the Covenant is calling. She's trying to communicate with her little children everywhere in this special "Age of Marian Apparitions." Where she corresponds she is repeating Scripture - "Do whatever He tells you." In this short sentence from the wedding feast at Cana is contained a marvelous, even miraculous prescription for clearing up the static, for being in tune with the Trinity, and in fulfilling God's Divine and Perfect Will.

     Yet so man of us forget that God talks to us. We complain, "I pray, I ask, but God doesn't answer. I don't hear anything." Is it perhaps because w're looking for something outstanding, a thundering voice, a flash of lightning, a spectacular vision or apparition? Could it be because somewhere deep within our hearts when we pray, we do all the talking and then, because we're afraid God's not going to give us what we want, we unconsciously don't listen because we don't want to hear the answer? In the next installment we will discuss this in "God does answer every prayer!".

To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.

Indulge in the merits of Indulgences

      We resume our catechism series after the holidays, bringing you this feature every Wednesday during the coming year. Our first for 1998 continues where we left off in 1997 - with the Sacrament of Penance, zeroing in on What is an Indulgence as we peruse capsule paragraphs from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old, but still reliable Baltimore Catechism. Click on CATECHISM CAPSULES

Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: Indulgences

    The Sacraments are part and parcel of our lives and so we continue our "capsule series" on each of the Sacraments, bringing you capsule paragraphs from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism. We begin today a series on Indulgences. It is included with the section on the Sacrament of Penance ("The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.") reminding us of our humanness and our total dependence on the Mercy of God and the promises He has made to His well as our promises to Him for through indulgences we can "obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for ourselves and for the souls in Purgatory."

No. 1471, page 370 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:


     "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfaction of Christ and the saints." (Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 1.)

     "An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." (Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 2; cf. Norm 3) Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead.

From the Baltimore Catechism No. 3; Benziger Brothers, Inc. and Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Nos. 839 through 841, pages 177-178.

Q. What is an indulgence?
A. An Indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to sin.

Q. What does the word "indulgence" mean?
A.The word "indulgence" means a favor or concession. An indulgence obtains by a very slight penance the remission of penalties that would otherwise be severe.

Q. Is an indulgence a pardon of sin, or a license to commit sin?
A.An indulgence is not a pardon of sin, nor a license to commit sin, and one who is in a state of mortal sin cannot gain an indulgence.

Fore is a three- some!

Our humor section for midweek deals with two great subjects: Golf and God! Though it's brief, it's cute and ties in with the start of the PGA tour this week at La Costa. For a chuckle or two, click on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven!

     The PGA Golf season gets underway this week with the Mercedes Championship at La Costa as Tiger Woods defends his title. Therefore, the links are in the limelight as we present a short ditty on golf and God. Enjoy and, please, don't be offended. Who says God can't play golf? He's God. He can do anything!

A mulligan by any other name

Moses, Jesus, and an old bearded man were out playing golf one day.

Moses pulled up to the tee and drove a long one. It landed in the fairway but rolled directly toward a water trap. Quickly Moses raised his club, the water parted and it rolled to the other side safe and sound.

Next, Jesus strolls up to the tee and hits a nice long one directly toward the same water trap. It landed directly in the center of the pond and kind of hovered over the water. Jesus casually walked out on the pond and chipped it up onto the green.

The third guy gets up and sort of randomly whacks the ball. It heads out over the fence and towards a rocky chasm. The ball bounces off a rock and hits a nearby tree. From there it bounces onto a waterfall and plummets down, splashing out onto the fairway and right toward the aforementioned pond. On the way to the pond, it hits a little stone and bounces out over the water and onto a lilypad where it rests quietly. Suddenly, a very large bullfrog jumps up on the lily pad, snatching the ball in its mouth. Just then, an eagle swoops down, clutching the frog in his talons, and takes flight again. As they pass over the green, the frog squeals with fright causing him to loose a grip on the ball which plummets earthward, dropping onto the green and plunk - right into the cup: Hole in one!

Moses threw up his hands, turning to Jesus he blurted: "Oi vey, miracle or no miracle, playing with Your Dad is tougher than climbing a mountain!"

Medjugorje Monthly Message for December 25th

    Dear children! Also today I rejoice with you and I call you to the good. I desire that each of you reflect and carry peace in your heart and say: I want God in the first place in my life. In this way, little children, each of you will become holy. Little children, tell everyone, I want the good for you and he will respond with the good and, little children, good will come to dwell in the heart of each man. Little children, tonight I bring to you the good of my Son Who gave His life to save you. That is why, little children, rejoice and extend your hands to Jesus Who is only good. Thank you for having responded to my call! For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

723 days and counting...

NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



     VATICAN (CWN) -- Pope John Paul II today conveyed his Christmas greetings to the Eastern Christian churches, who celebrate the feast today. He called again for greater progress toward Christian unity. The Orthodox churches, which still follow the Julian calendar, observe Christmas today.

      The Holy Father called for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, asking her help as he mentioned his "particular thought for our brothers in the Eastern churches, many of whom celebrate the Nativity of the Lord today. To them, I offer my sincere hope for a blessed Christmas."

      The Pope added his prayer: "that the Holy Mother of God will help us along the route toward full communion among all Christ's disciples, so that the proclamation of the Gospel to the generations of the new millennium will be every more effective."

      The Pope's appeal, at the beginning of 1997, comes after the conclusion of a year marred by difficulties in ecumenical relations. There were several minor diplomatic disagreements between the Holy See and the Patriarch of Constantinople, while the Patriarch of Moscow -- the head of the largest Eastern church-- was much more public in his rejection of a meeting with the Pontiff, which had been scheduled to take place in Vienna in June.


      VATICAN (CWN) -- Following a Vatican tradition, Pope John Paul II ordained nine new bishops at St. Peter's basilica today, marking the feast of the Epiphany and demonstrating the universal mission of the Church.

      The new bishops ordained today represented each of the world's continents; they included six from Europe and one each from America, Asia, and Africa. (The Vatican, following the lead of the special synod recently concluded in Rome, regards North and South America as a single continent.)

      Pope John Paul said that the Epiphany is an appropriate feast on which to offer this indication of the Church's universality, because the feast marks the day when the infant Christ was recognized by the Magi, representatives of the world at large. "The missionary work of the Church finds its point of departure and its universal goals on the feast of the Epiphany," the Holy Father said. He explained that this is the reason for "the custom in which the Bishop of Rome imposes his hands and invokes the Holy Spirit for the episcopal service of several priests coming from different nations."

      The nine new bishops included five Italians: Francesco Pompedda, who serves on the Roman Rota; Marco Dino Brogi, a Franciscan in the Vatican diplomatic service; Francesco Salerno, the secretary of the prefecture for the Holy See's economic affairs; Filippo Strofaldi of Naples; and Franco Della Valle, a Salesian who will now become the first bishop of Juina, Brazil. The other European representative was Wiktor Skworc of Tarnow, Poland.

      >From Africa came the new Bishop Peter Kwaku Atuahene, who will serve the newly created diocese of Goaso in Ghana. Bishop Angelito Lampon, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, is from the diocese of Jolo in the Philippines. And Bishop Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic will serve the diocese of Santiago, Chile.

      In his homily during the service, the Pope called upon each new bishop to "spread the light of Christ" and to lead the faithful in the "new evangelization."


     LOS ANGELES (CWN) - Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner attacked his company's critics on Monday, telling shareholders in a letter that the family entertainment company will not censor its artists.

      Disney has come under attack in recent years from pro-family, conservative, and Christian groups for pro-homosexual policies and releasing anti-Christian movies and television shows, such as Priest and Nothing Sacred. "We seek to be in business with the best and most creative talent we can find. We then try to give them freedom to do their best work. We try not to censor them, and I will always defend the right of talented artists who work for us to push the limits of their imagination," Eisner wrote.

      Eisner also charged that some groups are using the high-profile boycotts and protests against Disney "to leverage our strength with the public for their own ends, trade on our popularity, if you will." He added that the company does not make decisions to produce controversial works without consideration. "If we sometimes make choices with which others disagree, it is not because we have failed to look hard at our decisions," he wrote. "Sometimes we will make the wrong choice. Hopefully, we will more often make the right choice."


Opening Prayer for Today's Saint


WEDNESDAY, January 7, 1998

      Lord, you gave Saint Raymond the gift of compassion in his ministry to sinners. May his prayers free us from the slavery of sin and help us to love and serve you in liberty.


     Born at Penyafort in Catalonia, Spain in 1175, Saint Raymond was a scholarly genius, evident by the fact he was teaching philosophy in Barcelona at the early age of 20. By the time he was 35 he had resigned to study law at Bologna, Italy where he acquired a doctorate in 1216. Two years later Bishop Berengarius of Barcelona, proud of Raymond's achievements, made him an archdeacon which led to Raymond's vocation as a Dominican. The ensuing years brought fame to Raymond for his preaching throughout Spain as he addressed both Moors and Christians who had been freed from Moorish slavery, an endeavor Raymond played a pivotal role in from preaching the Spanish crusade which ultimately freed the Spanish slaves. Along with Saint Peter Nolasco Raymond cofounded the Mercedarians in 1223, which was a lay order called the Order of Our Lady of Ransom and whose specific purpose was to raise money to ransom the Christian slaves. Raymond was St. Peter Nolasco's spiritual director. Raymond became spiritual confessor to Pope Gregory IX in 1230. It was there in Rome where Raymond was assigned the task of collecting and codifying papal decrees. His massive work, released in 1150, became the cornerstone for canon law. It was also during this time that he was appointed papal penitentiary which led to his writing Summa casuum and which would have an influential effect on the penial system throughout Europe during the middle ages. In 1235 Raymond was consecrated Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain. It was a position he did not want for he wanted to be with the people and felt as bishop he could not dedicate time to preaching or studies. He became very ill a year later and requested the Holy Father to rescind his appointment as bishop so he could return to his beloved Spain where, after recuperating, resumed his preaching duties. Three years later he was named Master General of the Dominican Order. In this position he wrote a revision of the Dominican constitution, one that would stand until 1924 and then, at the age of 65, resigned his position with the Dominicans. Though it was the end of his official titles with the Dominicans it was not the end of his ministry for he would go on to preach for 35 more years, living to the ripe old age of 99, passing into God's embrace on January 6, 1275 in Barcelona, just shy of becoming a centarian. In those final years Raymond not only founded friaries in Tunis and Murcia, introduced the study of Arabic and Hebrew in Dominican circles to better understand Sacred Scripture and to preach to the non-Christians of the mideast during the Crusades, but also assisted in establishing the Inquisition in Catalonia, Spain. Raymond was canonized in 1601 by Pope Clement VIII.

THURSDAY, January 8, 1998


"Everyday is miserable for the depressed, but a lighthearted man has a continual feast."

Proverbs 15: 15

For all other standard features, articles and columns, click on Archives

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January 7, 1998 volume 9, no. 4          DAILY CATHOLIC

January 1998