Are you thankful because you didn't burn the turkey or the rutabagas? Are you thankful for most things of a temporal matter? If so, please take time to reflect upon Sacred Scripture, on the words of the psalm which David wrote: "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good..." and in the Acts of the Apostles, "In Him we live and move and have our being."
Above all, whether in joy or sadness, in laughter or tears, in stress or in times of peace of mind, give thanks to God, for He is aware of us at every single moment, and nothing that we have has not come by His hand. We cannot fathom His Infinite Love for us.
On this Thanksgiving Day, whether you celebrate with extended family, or not, remember to praise and adore Him, for without Him you would cease to exist, and there would be no eternal home awaiting you, where the feast He has prepared cannot be compared to the finest Thanksgiving dinner served anywhere, at any time. As you ponder this, remember that most think the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is the ultimate meal. How wrong we are. For the true nourishment we receive today, and every day of the year is the true "Thanksgiving": the Holy Eucharist. The word "Eucharist" means "Thanksgiving!" And it is to Him Who we should and must be truly thankful for everything we have is His and He has granted these gifts to us.
Rejoice and be glad...God lives! God loves you! Now, before you forget. Put the oven on warm, turn off the burners, put the pumpkin pie out to cool and gather the family to partake in the true Thanksgiving repast at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today. It is the ultimate banquet fit for a King and His subjects. Let us not let Him down. The turkey, dressing and all the fixing, and yes, even the football, will wait. What's a half hour or an hour with Him compared to the stress of missing out? Thanksgiving means a time of loved ones and love. We can't love others if we don't love God first.
Come to His table at a parish near you. He is waiting with Love. Love Him in return and the thanks shall never cease!
While some films were still laudable, the prelates and clerics in these films were looked upon as dottering, inefficient, troublesome. The film "Agony and the Ecstacy" starring Charleton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as the Pope depicted the latter in just such a light. Quite possibly, in the history of the pontiffs, there were many like that and even that one in particular, but it was the message conveyed on the big screen that greatly influenced the masses. Remember in the early seventies, with so many changes being foisted upon Catholics, they were in a state of transition and confusion. Disgruntled Catholics on both the right and left made no bones about it and, rather than "keeping it in the family" sought out the media to "tell all." This helped spawn the growth of talk shows begun by outspoken and obnoxious men like Joe Pyne in New York who aired any dirt on the Church he could, bringing in questionable women who told about their trysts with this priest or that. It was shock-TV and it brought in numbers. The entire industry sat up and took notice. Ethics be damned, this made money! Hollywood took the cue and began to portray priests and Catholics in this light, not as the exception, but as the rule. Even Catholic-raised Francis Coppula fell victim to the hype by contributing to the growing distrust of Catholics and clerics alike in his trilogy of "The Godfather" in which the families supposedly practiced their Catholicity while committing every sin against God's Ten Commandments. What kind of message did this send to the masses? That Catholics were hypocrites and their leaders were no better. The outpouring of affection the world had conjured up for Pope John XXIII because of his openness to change, soon turned to mistrust for his successor Pope Paul VI, especially after he had released the staunch encyclical Humanae Vitae on the sacredness of human life on July 29, 1968. It was totally rejected except in conservative circles, something unprecedented on a universal basis. As each year passed, his stature became one of a dottering old pope who had totally lost touch with reality and the times. Hmmm, sounds a lot like the criticism of one of his successors, doesn't it? Actually, that's the standard liberal whine when things don't go their way. Degrade, divide and conquer. And they don't give up. Today they're as strong as ever and have infiltrated every parish where unsuspecting Catholics are totally buying into their rhetoric. But many of these younger Catholics were weaned on this modernist platform, while the older, should-know-better Catholics stood by and let it happen. "Don't want to make waves" they'd alibi. But the wave of Catholic-bashing was just reaching its Tsunami proportions. By the end of the seventies such irreverant television programs as "Laugh-in" had given way to even more irreverant and blatantly moral-bashing vehicles as "Saturday Night Live," "Maude" and "All in the Family." People laughed on the outside, but inside they were seething with distrust and dislike for Catholics and anything they stood for. Even Catholics began to grow immune to the damage being done to their psyche and their souls as their hearts hardened.
By the late seventies Paul VI had died and the Roman Church had elected a Polish Pope. Polish jokes were more popular than ever and people the world over wondered who was this guy. Just as John XXIII and John F. Kennedy were linked to an ideology of liberalism and a personna of awe in the sixties, so also Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan were identified as powerful, conservative leaders with strong moral convictions. This was the only saving factor for the eighties as we shall see in our next installment next week when we treat the Enigmatic Eighties and the effects of the fallout in Holy Mother Church in this on-going feature megaseries.
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.
"In my diocese, there are communities that can only be reached by riding 20 hours on horseback along difficult roads; there are communities where the life expectancy at birth is only 35 years."
The Synod of Bishops for America is producing a veritable cascade of first-hand testimony from all parts of America. This particular quote is from Archbishop Marin Lopez of Popayan, Columbia. His testimony caught the attention of the assembly. "Six months ago in one of these remote communities, where there is no medical service, a woman was expecting her first child. The midwife said, 'The baby can't be born! His head is too big!' Within minutes, the alarm was raised and twenty young men organized themselves into a 'bucket brigade' to carry her six hours to the nearest clinic. They arrived in time, and with a doctor's help, the lives of the mother and child were saved. The people are calling the child 'the son of the community'."
Stories like this have been raising the consciousness of the prelates of the United States, the cardinals of the Roman Curia and the lay people present in the Synodal Assembly. There has been no lack of responses.
Archbishop Marin, for example, said that "it is evident that the persistence of such poverty and exclusion in our continent, which is predominantly Christian, indicates that the weakest aspect of our Church is the living-out of charity." Thus, he proposed that the Pope publish an encyclical on this subject in 1999, the year that the Holy Father himself has designated the "Year of Charity".
Furthermore, Archbishop Marin, who is in Rome at the Pope's explicit request, proposed that every bishop and priest divest himself of half of his personal wealth before the year 2000 as a gesture demonstrating that they practice what they are preaching for the Great Jubilee. The money from these goods could be sent to the Foundation of Populorum Progressio, which is dedicated to promoting small-scale projects among rural, indigenous, and Afro- American communities in Latin America.
The Code, having referred to the rights and duties of all the faithful,(46)
To ensure that such collaboration is harmoniously incorporated into pastoral ministry, and to avoid situations of abuse and disciplinary irregularity in pastoral practice, it is always necessary to have clarity in doctrinal principles. Therefore a consistent, faithful and serious application of the current canonical dispositions throughout the entire Church, while avoiding the abuse of multiplying "exceptional" cases over and above those so designated and regulated by normative discipline, is extremely necessary.
Where the existence of abuses or improper practices has been proved, Pastors will promptly employ those means judged necessary to prevent their dissemination and to ensure that the correct understanding of the Church's nature is not impaired. In particular, they will apply the established disciplinary norms to promote knowledge of and assiduous respect for that distinction and complementarity of functions which are vital for ecclesial communion. Where abusive practices have become widespread, it is absolutely necessary for those who exercise authority to intervene responsibly so as to promote communion which can only be done by adherence to the truth. Communion, truth, justice, peace and charity are all interdependent terms.(52)
In the light of the aforementioned principles, remedies, based on the normative discipline of the Church, and deemed opportune to correct abuses which have been brought to the attention of our Dicasteries, are hereby set forth.
NEXT ISSUE: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS - Article 1 part one