November 24, 1997   vol 8, no.37      SECTION ONE

To print out SECTION TWO, Click here.

Is it possible the Holy Father could conclude the Synod at Guadalupe?

      That is the buzz going around the bishops' synod after Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera , head of the Mexico City Archdiocese and see to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, formally invited his holiness and the rest of the bishops to alter the schedule so that the Pope and bishops could close the Synod in the basilica of Guadalupe on Our Lady's feast day on December 12th in Mexico City. It was an interesting proposal, along for a call to canonize visionary Blessed Juan Diego and no response yet for this unusual, but natural invite since it is the Synod of America. For more, click on Daily Synod Synthesis to read other items on the synod currently in its second week in Rome.


[The following report-- one in a series of daily reports on the activities of the special Synod of the Americas-- comes through the courtesy of the international news agency ZENIT, based in Rome.]

     Normally Synod talks are given in an atmosphere of respectful silence. Yesterday, however, the Synod broke into its first general applause after hearing three proposals from Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City. First, the archbishop invited the Holy Father to officially close the Synod in the Basilica of Guadalupe, near Mexico City. Second, he asked for the canonization of Juan Diego, and finally, he suggested that the Pope reaffirm the proclamation of Our Lady of Guadalupe as Queen of the Americas.

      The Synod Assembly continued discussing many great challenges that the Church must face in the third millennium, and occasionally offered new aspects for consideration.

      As is already widely known, the Synod's working document denounced corruption, the deficiencies in the administration of justice, and the loss of prestige which politics is now experiencing. This is a type of self-isolation, within which many Catholics have sealed themselves through a failure to educate and form those people who could have made a difference in these areas. In light of this, Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin, invited the Synod to think of a plan to help lay Christians use their rights to participate in political life responsibly.

      In response to the speeches which have alerted the Synod to the efforts of de-Christianization promoted by the media, Cardinal Jean- Claude Turcotte of Montreal affirmed that the Church should not have fear of the means of social communication. "Without our presence in these means of communication, we run the risk of being absent from the world," said the Canadian cardinal. The Church has to actively seek to be present in television in an attractive way. In Canada, the average person spends 25 hours a week watching television. There are lessons to be learned here for pastors, who shouldn't use television to defend their teachings, but to witness to it, since images impact the senses more than reasons do.

      The "global village" concept, which has been analyzed by several bishops in these first days, has produced a dramatic phenomenon: immigration.

      Coadjutor Bishop Jacinto Guerrero Torres of Tlaxcala, Mexico, proposed ways "to overcome a vision of international relations that is purely structural and centralized on economic and political power, in order to contribute to the creation of an intercultural relationship founded on the Christian vision and experience."

      Archbishop Francis Eugene George of Chicago spoke of the differences that exist between the Calvinist and individualistic society of the United States, and Hispanic society with its strong family ties. The archbishop of multi-ethnic Chicago, while referring to the problem of Hispanic immigration, stressed that these Catholics are called to find new ways of being Catholic in order to preserve their faith in a culturally hostile context. They live in a society that protects the rights of individuals and therefore, is efficient, but it isn't a fully human culture. He recognized that this goal requires an increased effort of assistance on the part of the Church, which should not be only a type of Red Cross or a non-governmental organization. "The greatest poverty is not to know Jesus Christ."

      Archbishop Rivera Carrera, made a summary of Christian thought regarding this issue with one phrase: "There are no 'foreigners' in the Church."

      One of the main issues on the Synod floor is the stance that the Church should take regarding the religious sects. In previous sessions it was noted how easily non-Catholic Christian groups are mistakenly considered as religious sects. Yet in today's session, Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon (Mexico) considered the other side: "We cannot look upon this phenomenon with indifference, as if it only deals with the question of an incomplete path to salvation." According to the bishop, "the problem is causing dramatic consequences" due to their "aggressive proselytism" and their "religious fanaticism."

      This issue was highlighted by Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City. On the one hand, he proposes to promote ecumenism with the Christian communities, instilling greater respect and tolerance, but on the other hand, he condemned their "aggressive attitude against the Catholic Church and the lack of interest for any unity on the part of the new religious movements and sects".

      A united strategy is required on the part of the Catholic Church in the Continent in order to face these common challenges. Various participants, such as Archbishop Pedro Antonio Marchetti of Curitiba (Brazil), and Bishop Josť Dolores Grullon Estrella of San Juan de la Maguana (Dominican Republic), asked that there be created an organization headed by the Holy See that connects the three episcopal conferences of Canada, United States, and Latin America. "Each day we are 'Americanizing' a little more," joked John Paul II, drawing smiles from the public. But the Holy Father wished to point out the intensity with which the assemblies are confronting the problems shared by both hemispheres of the Continent.


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More on the Laity's Role in Assisting the Priest

      We continue with the sixth installment in bringing you the entire 37-page document released November 13th on Instruction on certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of the priest which is a direct rebuttal to what Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney has mandated and which was covered in our last two issues. Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Sixth Installment: THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES - part two
1. The Common Priesthood of the Faithful and the Ministerial Priesthood

     The characteristics which differentiate the ministerial priesthood of Bishops and Priests from the common priesthood of the faithful and consequently delineate the extent to which other members of the faithful cooperate with this ministry, may be summarized in the following fashion:a) the ministerial priesthood is rooted in the Apostolic Succession, and vested with "potestas sacra"(29) consisting of the faculty and the responsibility of acting in the person of Christ the Head and the Shepherd.(30) b) it is a priesthood which renders its sacred ministers servants of Christ and of the Church by means of authoritative proclamation of the Word of God, the administration of the sacraments and the pastoral direction of the faithful.(31) To base the foundations of the ordained ministry on Apostolic Succession, because this ministry continues the mission received by the Apostles from Christ, is an essential point of Catholic ecclesiological doctrine.(32) The ordained ministry, therefore, is established on the foundation of the Apostles for the upbuilding of the Church: (33) "and is completely at the service of the Church".(34) "Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character of service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly 'servants of Christ' (Rom 1, 1) in the image of him who freely took for us 'the form of a slave' (Phil 2,7). Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all".(35)

NEXT ISSUE: Theological Principles -part three 2. Unity and Diversity of MInisterial Functions

Use these days wisely for focusing on prayer

      By earmarking each day of the week to focus on a particular aspect of our prayer life, we can better begin to pray sincerely in and with the heart as Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. illustrates in his ninth installment of The Journey from the Head to the Heart in his weekly column. Click on Hearts to Heart Talk

Part Nine: The Journey from the Head to the Heart

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

     The past generations have found it exceedingly difficult to follow Jesus' example of heart-living for various reasons, but one stands out. A man by the name of Descartes, being in high esteem by people of his day, came forth with the statement: "I THINK, therefore I AM." ("Cogito, ergo sum"). What he said in effect was, because he experienced THINKING, he KNEW that he existed. Pulling away from Jesus, he went back to put the mind ahead of the heart. This is the state in which the world, as such, finds itself in our present day.

     One consequence of the above is that satan has great power over us in our time because he has easy access into the mind. The heart he cannot directly touch, the mind he can and does. In addition, because he IS the prince of this world, he sees to it by way of his fallen-angelic power to maintain wherein the mind is continously stimulated. We of our day find it most difficult to live a life of the heart. We are constantly being presented stimuli by way of our five senses, which senses have a tremendous power over the mind. Unless we make great effort to keep ourselves in the heart, we can go the way of all flesh.

     The hope that Jesus' presence (living in our midst) gave, and continues to give us, is somewhat dimmed because of what seems to be a diabolic effort to keep us out of the heart. We live in a mind-dominated culture. Unless we choose to cling to Christ and His teaching, we can easily and obliviously be led down the prim rose path of rebellion against our God.

     What can one do? On the natural level, but with supernatural help, we can slow down our mental intake and intensify the life activities of the heart. We can more often turn off the television, put down the newspapers, shorten our social telephone calls in favor of PRAYER WITH THE HEART. We can put forth a greater effort to align ourselves with Jesus than with the world.

     One directive can be given in this one: connect each day of the week with a genuine and healthy heart activity. What I mean is this: let Mondays be BELIEVING days (Faith), Tuesdays - TRUSTING days, (Hope) Wednesdays - LOVING days (Charity), Thursdays - OBEDIENCE days, Fridays - FORGIVING days, Saturdays - THANKING days, and Sundays as PRAISING days. If, on each of these days, we could posit the corresponding heart activity, and at the same time cut down on our mental intake, we could keep ourselves in balance. If we follow out this simple directive for a period of time, let's say, two months, we could eventually live in the heart. All of the above heart activities are wholesome and very dear to the Lord.

     Next week, I will continue this trend of thought, as we conclude the theme Journey from Head to the Heart.

Strengthening ourselves in Christ

      That is the essence of the Sacrament of Confirmation which we begin today in our daily capsules of teachings from both the new and old Catechisms. Click on CATECHISM CAPSULES


      The Sacraments are part and parcel of our lives and so we continue our "capsule series" on each of the Sacraments, bringing you a few capsule paragraphs each day from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism with this week devoted to the Sacrament of Confirmation, linked to Baptism and the Eucharist, both sacraments of which we have covered to this point and all three comprising the sacraments of intitiation.

No. 1285, pages 325-326 and no. 1315, page 333-334 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery; Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Urbi Et Orbi Communications:

      Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.

For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

     "Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8: 14-17).

From the Baltimore Catechism No. 2; Benziger Brothers, Inc. and Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. No. 330, and No. 3, No. 671, page 139.

Q. What is Confirmation?
A. Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Ghost comes to us in a special way to enable us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

Q. When was Confirmation instituted?
A. The exact time at which Confirmation was instituted is not known. But as this Sacrament was administered by the Apostles and numbered with the other Sacraments instituted by Our Lord, it is certain that He instituted this Sacrament also and instructed His Apostles in its use, at some time before His ascension into Heaven.

Vietnam Martyrs

      Today is the feast of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions. Though he is the first Vietnamese saint, little is known of this diocesan priest from the mid nineteenth century who, along with numerouis others, died for their faith. They all were strengthened as soldiers of Christ for the cause of salvation and their blood has been the seed of many vocations from this ravaged area of the far east. For more on today's feast and tomorrow's readings in preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

Monday, November 24: Feast of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companion Martyrs

Monday, November 24:
Feast of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac,, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs

      On June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of martyrs to the exalted position of saint, as recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. This group of martyrs consisted of 117 people who died for the Roman Catholic Faith in the nineteenth century in Vietnam. Among the group, St. Andrew Dung-Lac is mentioned my name, most probably because he was a priest and the most visible. The majority of the canonized group remain unnamed. Nonetheless, the fact remains that these people all gave their lives preferring the Eternal Life with Christ to the worldly life that was offered to them. Andrew Dung-Lac was a diocesan priest in Vietnam. He was born around 1839. The information available does not state when, specifically, he died, but the fact of his death - a death by martyrdom - are authenticated by Holy Mother Church. As with all the Saints, we are called to seek the intercession of the person whose feast is celebrated, in some manner taking their life into our own, examining where we can imitate this person best. Not all of us will be called to shed our blood for Christ. All of us are called to die to ourselves and to live in Christ, through total surrender, every day. Let us all, as we now begin the final week of November leading up to Advent, recall in our hearts first and then our minds, the total obedience given by Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions to God. Let us ask his intercession so that, with Godís grace, we, too, may die to self and life in and for Christ alone, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Tuesday, November 25:

Thirty-fourth Tuesday in Ordinary Time, November 25:


      Today's prayer is taken from the Opening Prayer of the Mass:

O God, source and origin of all fatherhood, You kept the blessed martyrs Andrew and his companions faithful to the cross of Your Son even to the shedding of their blood. Through their intercession enable us to spread Your Love among our brothers and sisters, that we may be called and may truly be Your children.

Medjugorje Monthly Message

October 25th Message

   Dear children: Also, today I am with you and I call all of you to renew yourselves by living my messages. Little children, may prayer be life for you and may you be an example to others. Little children, I desire for you to become carriers of Peace and of God's Joy to today's world without peace. That is why, little children, pray, pray, pray! I am with you and I bless you with my motherly peace. Thank you for having responded to my call!
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

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November 24, 1997 volume 8, no. 37         DAILY CATHOLIC

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