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TUESDAY

March 10, 1998             SECTION TWO              vol 9, no. 49



We can't afford to take our faith for granted!

     In his column today, Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. addresses that point that we have to be assured we don't become too smug in our faith, but rather continue to nourish our faith in his column on Vertical Faith Fertilizing Faith by keeping our eyes, hearts and souls focused on God above and not get too wrapped up with horizontal faith. For without the "vertical" our horizontal becomes merely humanistic. Fr. John explains in his twenty-ninth installment of his series "Faith: Key to the Heart of God." Click on KEYS TO LIVING GOD'S WILL

Twenty-ninth Installment: Vertical Growth: Fertilizing Faith

      All through Scripture we find admonitions to avoid smugness at any level of faith; we should never become self-satisfied but work to increase that faith. The greatest spiritual disease is smugnessóthe "Iím-good-enough" attitude. "I go to church every Sunday, so Iím a good Christian. "That kind of petty mentality does not allow for growth or development. Yet Paul says to be accepting of others whose faith is weak (Romans 14:1). Thatís what God does with us in our weakness of faith, for He will not crush the bruised reed nor quench the something that is weak, a dying flame, and let it die out. He will pour fuel on a smouldering fire, as He did through His prayer for Peterís faith-growth (Luke 22:31).

      If we take whatever little bit of faith we have and present it to Jesus to work on, He will cause it to develop. In Matthew 25 we read about the talents, different proportions of money loaned to each of three people. The first two invested and doubled it, bringing joy to their master. But the one who did not invest, but buried his him to be punished. He was punished, not for stealing, but for leaving his money to yield no interest. A sin of neglect is sometimes worse than a sin of act (cf. James 4:17).

      If we donít develop the faith that is given us, weíll suffer the consequences. If we donít invest and grow in that faith we may become smugly satisfied, claiming that we havenít wasted or lost our faith; weíre still practicing our faith, but weíve buried it in some way. We will have to render to God an account of our neglected stewardship. God expects us to grow, not simply to stagnate. Letting our faith deteriorate is bad, but letting it grow stagnant isnít much better. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). But without growth in faith, it is impossible to do Godís Will as productive stewards of His gifts.

      We all have some degree of faith. We have to learn how to let it grow, and even to make it grow, in the sunlight of Godís grace. We do that mainly by living our faith to the fullest. Faith has to be a lived-out thing, invested, involved, activated. Romans 1:17 "The just man will live by faith" (cf. Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11).

      Faith will grow if we give it a chance. We donít have to be upset if we notice that we donít have faith that moves mountains. I have really not met anyone with that level of faith. But we might let ourselves feel a bit guilty about the negligent way in which we exercise the faith we have. God may touch us with the realization that weíre not really developing our faith, that weíre on a kind of faith plateau, living day by day in a routine way. Colossians 2:7 reminds us that just as we had faith to believe in the Lord to save us, now we must go on beyond that to believe in Him to help us handle our many daily problems.

      Paul suggests that we give ourselves a test of faith (II Corinthians 13:5): "Do you feel Christís power and presence more and more within you?" (More and more signifies growth.) "Or are you just pretending to be Christian when actually you arenít at all?" Ask yourself, apply the test to "see if you really be of the faith.

Next Installment: Vertical Growth: Fertilizing Faith - second part.


A time for reflection and repentance

     That is what Lent is for and the rest of this week we commemorate the Lenten Weekdays with readings on these topics. For the readings, meditations and liturgies of today and tomorrow, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

TUESDAY, March 10, 1998


WEDNESDAY, March 11, 1998


PRAYERS & DEVOTION

Today's prayer is the Opening Prayer in honor of Saint John of God, whose feast was superceded by the Second Sunday in Lent

     Father, You gave John of God love and compassion for others. Grant that by doing good for others we may be counted among the saints in Your kingdom.

For more devotions of Lent, click on WAY OF THE CROSS

Medjugorje Monthly Message for February 25th

      Dear children! Also today I am with you and I, again, call all of you to come closer to me through your prayers. In a special way, I call you to renunciation in this time of grace. Little children, meditate on and live, through your little sacrifices, the Passion and Death of Jesus for each of you. Only if you come closer to Jesus will you comprehend the immeasurable love He has for each of you. Through prayer and your renunciation you will become more open to the gift of faith and love towards the Church and the people who are around you. I love and bless you. Thank you for having responded to my call! For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

661 and counting, hoping and praying..


WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

HEADLINES:

There is no debate, the Rock will remain solid behind Primacy of Peter

      In releasing a Vatican document for training on Ecumenism, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity Cardinal Edward Cassidy stated unequivocably that though the Church seeks unity through ecumenism, there can be no compromise when it comes to the Primacy of Peter. For more, click on Ecumenism to read more.

PAPAL PRIMACY NOT NEGOTIABLE AS VATICAN RELEASES DOCUMENT ON ECUMENISM

     VATICAN (CWN) -- While the Catholic Church longs for Christian unity, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is not open for negotiation, Cardinal Edward Cassidy told reporters yesterday. The cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, made his comments as he introduced a new Vatican document regarding the responsibilities of pastors in ecumenical work.

      "Regarding primacy, we have no intentions of conceding what is essential," Cardinal Cassidy said. "John Paul II has asked, very clearly, for a study on how it might be exercised. The question of primacy can perhaps be studied, then, in the hope of finding some agreement which would be acceptable to others. In this way the primacy could better serve its own end."

      The cardinal emphasized that papal primacy, in fact, should be seen as an ecumenical service, insofar as the Bishop of Rome is the symbol of Christian unity and the servant of all the local churches.

      Cardinal Cassidy also stressed that ecumenical work is an essential aspect of the Christian vocation. "It is not a question, then, of whether or not to do ecumenical work," he said. "As the Pope has said, this is part of the mission of the Church... If we wish to be disciples of Christ, we must work toward this unity-- not a unity of compromise or concession, but unity marking by searching together for the truth."

      Noting that "there is a great deal of confusion" regarding ecumenical dialogue, the cardinal said that the Catholic church "cannot sacrifice the truth in order to build ourselves a house on a foundation of sand. We must build a house on rock, and on truth."

      Cardinal Cassidy was making his remarks on the occasion of the release of a new Vatican Document for training on ecumenism. Five years after the publication of a directory for ecumenical work, the Vatican has produced a new document, giving pastors further guidance on how they should apply the essential principles of ecumenism to their own pastoral work. The new document stresses the need for providing training to priests and seminarians on ecumenical work.

      The 30-page document, entitled "The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of Those Who Work in Pastoral Ministry," was made public at the Vatican today. Cardinal Edward Cassidy introduced the document to the press. The document is divided into two parts: one concentrating on giving an "ecumenical dimension" to all theological studies, the other addressing the specific teaching on ecumenism itself.

      The document stresses the need to adapt ecumenical efforts to the particular situation of the local church. It encourages the search for "expressions of faith which can be reciprocally acceptable and transparent." While cautioning that the magisterium must exercise final judgment on any new approaches to the statement of Christian belief, the new work suggests that the process of developing common statements will encourage mutual understanding and the use of "an ecumenical language." The Vatican suggests that Catholic professors should be joined in their theological work, as often as practical, by scholars of other Christian traditions.

      The study of ecumenism, the second part of the document states, should be a required element of the curriculum for the formation of priests and pastoral workers. All ministers should have a clear sense of the Church's teachings on ecumenism, of the practical realities involved, and of the positions held by the other Christian communities. That understanding should include a confident grasp of theological questions such as the meaning of the Eucharist, the role of the Virgin Mary, and the authority of the Catholic Church.

      Finally, the document points attention toward the prospects for ecumenical cooperation in addressing contemporary challenges such as the need for ethical guidance in the development of medical technology, the response to the proliferation of religious sects, the dangers to the faith represented by nationalism, and the overall concern of secularization in culture.


Pope reaffirms America's need to help and calls on an end to strife in Kosovo

      Completing his week-long annual Lenten retreat, the Holy Father emerged to meet with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is on a whirlwind tour of European cities. He made a point to reminded her of America's responsibilities and asked for help in the Serbian province of Kosovo where he devoted his Angelus talk the next day to the atrocities there and called on all parties to end the violence. For more, click on US and Kosovo to read more.

POPE MEETS US SECRETARY OF STATE, EXPRESSES ALARM OVER FIGHTING IN KOSOVO

     VATICAN (CWN) -- During a 30-minute conversation with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Saturday, March 7, Pope John Paul II emphasized America's responsibilities as a world power, particularly concerning Kosovo, the Middle East, China, and Cuba.

      Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the atmosphere of the meeting was "very cordial." Albright was accompanied to the Vatican by US Ambassador Lindy Boggs. After her audience with the Holy Father, she also met with the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and his deputy, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran.

      "The conversations allowed a useful exchange of opinion regarding the responsibilities of the United States on the world scene," Navarro-Valls told reporters in Rome. He indicated that the newly erupted violence in the Serbian province of Kosovo was high on the agenda.

      Prior to the meeting, sources at the Vatican had predicted that the Holy Father would also seek to discuss American policies regarding the Middle East (Iraq in particular) and Cuba. Navarro- Valls confirmed that those topics had been discussed, and that the Pope had noted the apparent move toward political liberty in Cuba after his visit there in January. The Pope also asked for American help in the effort to encourage religious freedom in China, he said, as well as help in ending bloody ethnic rivalries in central Africa.

      The next day, Pope John Paul II raised a cry of alarm on Sunday, March 8, because of the widening violence in Kosovo-- a province of Serbia largely populated by ethnic Albanians. The Holy Father called for a clear recognition of the rights of the people of Kosovo.

      Speaking at the end of his regular Angelus audience, Pope John Paul observed that the bloodshed in Kosovo undermines the overall peace of the Balkan region, and that the "explosions of violence threaten once again all the efforts we have seen toward dialogue and peace." For that reason, he said, all men of good will should work devotedly for the establishment of a peace in which freedom and human rights are clearly secure.

      The Holy Father offered his condolences to all those people in Kosovo who had already lost family members in the fighting, saying that he would be with them in prayer and in solidarity.

      Pope John Paul II raised a cry of alarm on Sunday, March 8, because of the widening violence in Kosovo-- a province of Serbia largely populated by ethnic Albanians. The Holy Father called for a clear recognition of the rights of the people of Kosovo.

      Speaking at the end of his regular Angelus audience, Pope John Paul observed that the bloodshed in Kosovo undermines the overall peace of the Balkan region, and that the "explosions of violence threaten once again all the efforts we have seen toward dialogue and peace." For that reason, he said, all men of good will should work devotedly for the establishment of a peace in which freedom and human rights are clearly secure.

      The Holy Father offered his condolences to all those people in Kosovo who had already lost family members in the fighting, saying that he would be with them in prayer and in solidarity.


Could there be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Church in Vietnam?

     That is the hope of the three new bishops who the Holy Father has appointed to Vietnamese dioceses. The trio of new prelates were chosen on the recommendation of the fact finding delegation that had just returned from Vietnam after negotiating with the government there over the issue of a Church answering directly to Rome as opposed to answering to the government as Red China currently enforces. For more, click on Vietnam to read more.

NEW BISHOPS FOR VIETNAM SUGGEST BREAKTHROUGH

     VATICAN (CWN) -- Three new bishops have been named to dioceses in Vietnam. The announcement of those appointments-- made at the Vatican today-- suggested that a breakthrough had been achieved by the Vatican delegation which recently returned from Vietnam after a special negotiating mission.

      Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, who is now a coadjutor bishop of My Tho, was named to be the Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the most important Catholic center in the Asian country. For several years this archbishopric has been vacant, as the consequence of an impasse in negotiations between Holy See and the government in Vietnam; the government had rejected the first Vatican nominee for the position.

      Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Tipasa, Mauritania-- who has been serving as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Hue-- will now officially become the archbishop there. And Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Džnh Tung of Hanoi will become the apostolic administrator of Lang Son and of Cao Bing.

      The episcopal changes were announced by the Vatican, without any further public comment, just days after the return to Rome of a delegation headed by Msgr. Celestino Migliore, which had been charged with negotiating with the Vietnam government in an effort to allow the appointment of new bishops. Vietnam, like China, has sought to establish a "patriotic" Catholic Church, in which bishops would be loyal to the national government rather than to the Holy See.

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PROVERB OF THE DAY

"The wicked man makes empty profits, but he who sows virtue has a sure reward."

Proverbs 11: 18

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

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March 10, 1998 volume 9, no. 49         DAILY CATHOLIC