November 27, 1997   vol 8, no.40      SECTION ONE

To print out SECTION TWO, click here

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

      Today is naturally the day we give thanks for all the benefits we have. But supernaturally everyday is the day we give thanks for God's graces and gifts. The etimology of the word "Thanksgiving" evolves from the Greek meaning to show thanks, combining eu - to show, and charistia favor or thanks. Thus the word derived for "Giving Thanks" is the Greek root: "Eucharistia which we all know as the Eucharist. Cyndi Cain treats this in her abbreviated Thanksgiving commentary today, entitled "The True Meaning of Thanksgiving." Click on Catholic PewPoint Too

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

     Youíve taken a moment to reflect even though the turkeyís still not cooked, the dressing isnít ready, or the table isnít set. The guests are expected in a short while, the TV set's on already, the kitchen has wonderful aromas wafting from it, and, hopefully, there is joy and cheer in your home. But thereís also stress, as well, on this holiday in which we pause to give thanks.

      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!

Cyndi Cain

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

      That's what the media and Hollywood have been doing over these past several decades: gobbling up the collective consciences of millions with turkey productions that have subliminally and outwardly portrayed Catholics in a bad light. That is the topic in this week's installment of our continuous feature Where is Holy Mother Church Heading as we near the Millennium? with the fiftieth installment in this long on-going series on the Church today. Click on "Persecution and Prejudice Pile up on Holy Mother Church"

Wake-up Call to all Catholics the twenty fourth clarion

installment fifty

Beware of False Prophets in the American Church - part eleven:
"Persecution and Prejudice up on Holy Mother Church"

      The movies - the great escape entertainment of the fifties and early sixties had turned in the seventies to tools of propaganda and shock. Most shocking was the movie the "Exorcist" which depicted the Catholic priests as weak and inefficient. The movie, "The Cardinal" also showed a human, weak individual struggling with his vocation in a much different light than Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of a nun in the "Nun's Story." Though these were nothing compared to later celluloid sell-outs in the late eighties and nineties like "Priests," they set the tone for depicting Catholics and priests as weak, troubled human beings. The image on the screen came across as someone you wouldn't and couldn't trust, causing an erosion at the confessionals and at Sunday Mass. The sacredness of a vocation to the religious life was looked upon negatively, causing countless young men and women to forsake any thought of dedicating their lives to God. Instead they sought after what Hollywood was selling: fame, fortune, good looks and sex. Ah, the American dream soon became an antithesis to all God had deigned for mankind.

     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.

Give from your bountiful harvest

      That is the message being promoted at the Synod of America currently finishing up its second week in Rome as we continue to bring you the daily happenings of this important synod convened by Pope John Paul II. Click on Daily Synod Synopsis


[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.]

      "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.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here.

Pilgrims' Progress

      The early pilgrims to our shores were slow in making progress, but the Holy See has sent anew a "Mayflower of Instruction" to the pilgrims of America with the intent of clearing up the abuses by laity and priests in our liturgies, most specifically the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We continue our daily installments of this important document released in mid-November with the Ninth installment on THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES 4. The Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in Pastoral Ministry. Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

on the role of the Laity

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

Ninth installment: THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES part five
4. The Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in Pastoral Ministry

      Among the various aspects of the participation of the non-ordained faithful in the Church's mission considered by the conciliar documents, that of their direct collaboration with the ministry of the Church's pastors is considered.(44) Indeed, "when necessity and expediency in the Church require it, the Pastors, according to established norms from universal law, can entrust to the lay faithful certain offices and roles that are connected to their pastoral ministry but do not require the character of Orders".(45) In this way, it is not one merely of assistance but of mutual enrichment of the common Christian vocation. This collaboration was regulated by successive post-conciliar legislation and particularly by the Codex Iuris Canonici.

     The Code, having referred to the rights and duties of all the faithful,(46)

in the subsequent title devoted to the rights and duties of the lay faithful, treats not only of those which are theirs in virtue of their secular condition,(47) but also of those tasks and functions which are not exclusively theirs. Some of these latter refer to any member of the faithful, whether ordained or not,(48) while others are considered along the lines of collaboration with the sacred ministry of cleric.(49) With regard to these last mentioned areas or functions, the non-ordained faithful do not enjoy a right to such tasks and functions. Rather, they are "capable of being admitted by the sacred Pastors... to those functions which, in accordance with the provisions of law, they can discharge" (50) or where "ministers are not available... they can supply certain of their functions... in accordance with the provisions of law".(51)

     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.


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

To go to SECTION TWO, click here

November 26, 1997 volume 8, no. 39         DAILY CATHOLIC

November 1997