THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE DIOCESE OF AUSTIN Pope con rms visit to Philadelphia in September

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1 D E C E M B E R V O L U M E 3 2, N U M B E R 11 THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE DIOCESE OF AUSTIN Pope con rms visit to Philadelphia in September BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the rst con rmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America. The pope made the announcement Nov. 17 in a speech opening an interreligious conference on traditional marriage. I would like to con rm that, God willing, in September 2015 I will go to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families, the pope said. The announcement had been widely expected, since Pope Benedict XVI had said before his retirement that he hoped to attend the Philadelphia POPE FRANCIS has con rmed that he will visit Philadelphia in September for the World Meeting of Families. (CNS photo by Paul Haring) event. Popes typically ful ll their predecessors publicly known travel plans, as Pope Francis did in July 2013 when he attended World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who was in Rome for the families meeting, told Catholic News Service the announcement was a surprise in the sense that it was announced so early; you know usually they don t make these announcements four months out is the typical and here we are 10 months away, and the Holy Father said he is coming to Philadelphia. The Holy Father has said that he s going to be coming to Philadelphia for quite a few months, he told Catholic News Service. He s been telling me that personally, but for him to announce it of cially that he is coming so early is really quite an unusual thing, so it s going to re-energize our efforts. There s lot of enthusiasm already, but I think 90 percent of the enthusiasm s based on the fact that the Holy Father will be with us, and now that he s said that I expect that there will be even a double amount of enthusiasm... and I m very happy about that. reported the archbishop noted that Pope Francis has focused on the many challenges that families face today globally. His charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering. As I ve said many times before, I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us Catholic and non-catholic alike together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways. We look forward to Pope Francis arrival in Philadelphia next September, and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts. In August, Pope Francis told reporters accompanying him on the plane back from South Korea that he would like to go to Philadelphia. The pope also noted that President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress had invited him to Washington, D.C., and that the secretary-general of the United Nations had invited him to New York. Maybe the three cities together, no? Pope Francis said, adding that he could also visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico on the same trip but it is not certain. Although few details of the papal visit have been made public, organizers for the families congress expect Pope Francis to arrive Sept. 25 for an afternoon public visit with civic of cials. That would begin his rst trip as pope to the U.S. and the second papal visit to Philadelphia in a generation; St. Pope John Paul II visited the city in The visit will mark the fourth time a sitting pontiff has visited the U.S. During his visit, Pope Francis is expected to attend the Festival of Families Sept. 26, a cultural celebration for hundreds of thousands of people along Philadelphia s main cultural boulevard, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Donna Farrell, executive director for the 2015 World Meeting of Families and its chief planner, said although Philadelphia has hosted St. Pope John Paul s visit, the city has not had anything like this unique Festival of Families. It s really going to be something special. Registration for the congress opened in mid- November. The meeting will be a weeklong series of talks, discussions and activities. Beginning in December, in celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family, the Diocese of Austin will launch a website, wmof2015, to help Catholics stay apprised of all that is happening with the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and family events here in the Diocese of Austin. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas BLESSED CHURCH Syro-Malabar parish nds a permanent home in Manor. Page 4 BUILDING BRIDGES Pope Francis is focused on ecumenism. Page 14 Austin Diocese 6225 Hwy. 290 East Austin, Texas BISHOP S INTERVIEW Praying for and thanking religious men and women. Page 16 ESPAÑOL St. Austin recuerda la Noche de los Vidrios Rotos. Página 24

2 2 THE MISSION OF THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT As the of cial newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin, the CATHOLIC SPIRIT is dedicated to providing information, education and formation for the Catholic community of Central Texas. This mission calls for the newspaper: to provide readers with an understanding of our Catholic faith and traditions; to be a primary source of information on Catholic issues relevant to the community; to be a unifying element for faith communities, both rural and urban, throughout Central Texas; to show respect for and appreciation of all cultural groups and traditions; to emphasize topics af rming the Catholic community and life, while acknowledging the humanity of the community and examining, with courage, topics that challenge and encourage growth in the faith; to carry a commitment to social justice that will support the renewal of the church in Central Texas. HOW TO SUBMIT INFORMATION Deadline for submission of articles or information for the CATHOLIC SPIRIT is the 10th of the month for publication in the following month s edition. Deadline for the January issue is Dec. 10. You can submit material in any of the following ways: to Mail to CATHOLIC SPIRIT, 6225 Hwy. 290 E., Austin, TX For additional information, call (512) or us at CATHOLIC SPIRIT has unrestricted editing rights. HOW TO SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR Readers are encouraged to express their opinions on articles published in CATHOLIC SPIRIT. Letters to the editor provide a forum of discussion for the local Catholic community. The views expressed in the letters do not necessarily represent those of the editor or the publisher of CATHOLIC SPIRIT. Letters to the editor should be limited to 250 words. Name and full address of the writer must be provided, though name will be withheld from publication on request. We reserve the right to edit or withhold all letters. Please to or mail to Editor, Catholic Spirit, 6225 Hwy. 290 E., Austin, TX VOICES CATHOLIC SPIRIT Training body, soul during Advent BY SHELLEY METCALF CATHOLIC SPIRIT STAFF As I write this, I am in the nal weeks of training for my rst marathon. I ve learned a lot about myself during the last several months. I started training on a whim in mid-summer. It was hot and humid, and it was hard, but thankfully, I was running with a good friend. On the rst 10-miler, I could not fathom how I would run more. But I followed my training plan, and I did 13 the next week. Our mileage increased and the sweat continued to pour. The rst time the temperature dropped to 60 degrees, we thanked God over and over for the cooler weather. Then I ran my rst 20-miler, and I cried from pain and frustration. My friend was injured, so I ran it alone, and my legs hurt, my stomach grumbled, my lungs ached. Thankfully, the training plan backed off a little, and the next few long runs were not so far. However, I was nervous, really, really nervous, and I started praying hard! The temperatures cooled off more and the long runs were less dif cult (never easy though). The weekend of Nov. 8, I did a 22-miler, the longest run in my training schedule. I began the run early in the morning, and as the sun came up, all those weeks of training nally came together. On that crisp Saturday morning, I realized I was ready. My legs were strong and ready for the distance, and my mind was prepared and ready to push through the discomfort. But I was still worried about the 26.2, and I was still praying hard. Then last Sunday, we were early to Mass and I found myself reading through the Sunday Scriptures for Advent, and these words from Gaudete Sunday literally jumped from the page. May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it, says 1Thessalonians 5: Those words calmed my worries instantly, and I realized God had been with me at all times in the months of training. When I was hurting, tired and freaking out, God was with me. He knew that the best way for me to prepare for running this distance was to faithfully follow my training plan. So he was with me on the dark, early mornings, he was with me on the streets and sidewalks throughout Cedar Park, he is with me now as I re ect on those months of training, and he will carry me over that nish line on Dec. 7. This Advent, my prayer is that over these next four weeks I can prepare my spirit and soul for Christ as faithfully and as diligently as I have prepared my legs and my mind for 26.2 miles. I know God will be with me every step of the way, for he is far more faithful than I will ever be. SHELLEY METCALF and her family are parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Cedar Park. She has been editor of the Catholic Spirit since HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Subscription rates are $12 for one year. To subscribe, send check payable to Catholic Spirit to CATHOLIC SPIRIT, 6225 Hwy. 290 E., Austin, TX Members of a parish in the Austin Diocese may receive the newspaper for a reduced rate. Contact your parish staff for more information. ADDRESS CHANGES OR DUPLICATE MAILINGS Send all address changes to CATHOLIC SPIRIT, 6225 Hwy. 290 E., Austin, TX Please include your parish s name and city. If receiving duplicate copies of the CATHOLIC SPIRIT, call (512) or STAFF Publisher: Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin Editor: Shelley Metcalf; (512) , Assistant Editor: Christian R. González; (512) , Advertising: Shelley Metcalf; (512) , Spanish translation: Gina Dominguez Columnists: Barbara Budde, Norman Farmer, Mary Lou Gibson and Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. Correspondents: Burnie Cook, Amy Moraczewski, Peggy Moraczewski, Enedelia Obregón, Michele Chan Santos and Mary P. Walker Catholic Spirit subscribes to Catholic News Service (CNS) and is a member of the Catholic Press Association. Copyright 2014 by the Austin Diocese. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any editorial content, photograph, art or design is prohibited without written permission of the publisher CATHOLIC SPIRIT (ISSN ) is published 11 times annually (monthly except one issue in July/August) by the Austin Diocese. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, publisher, 6225 Hwy. 290 E., Austin, TX Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Catholic Spirit, 6225 Hwy. 290 E., Austin, Texas A season of waiting and learning BY RHINA GUIDOS GUEST COLUMNIST Though it s hard to peg down, some believe the Catholic Church began observing Advent in the fourth century. Since then, Advent has become increasing popular as some faithful observe with Advent wreaths or calendars, counting down to the moment of joy, of the birth, the new life, not just of our savior but essentially, of our faith. Observing Advent, for those who really take the time, can teach us to slow down, to re ect during what is, for many, the busiest and most stressful time of the year. It can help us in our life-long advent, that waiting period until we are with God, the light. I can t help but think of the lyrics from George Harrison s My Sweet Lord, when the former Beatle sings about really wanting to see the Lord, but it seems to be taking so long. I remember having that feeling when I was a child, when we stopped by the empty bed of straw in the Nativity scene of our parish. Each time we passed it and he wasn t there, I remember that I really want to see you feeling. Psalms 27:14 tell us to Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord. When we re children, it seems as if that waiting period will take forever. It can seem endless, too, to a mother or a father waiting for a child who lives far away, and who visits only during Christmas. There s something really beautiful about the wait, about the anticipation, and we shouldn t let it go to waste. Perhaps we re waiting, neither for presents, nor for the magic some of us nd in the Christmas season, but for a moment of darkness or loneliness to pass, one that only the Lord can lift us out of. Maybe we re waiting for the advent of the day when we re able to defeat an addiction, with help from God, or when we re able to get a better job, holding on solely to God during our moments of tribulation. We know the day will come when the pain will be over, if we wait with the Lord for the storm to pass. They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint, says Isaiah 40:31. Advent can teach us to wait for the light, in whatever form it comes. Guidos is an editor at Catholic News Service.

3 December 2014 BY MICHELE CHAN SANTOS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT The Celebrating Catholic Schools Dinner and Awards Presentation honors the unsung heroes of Catholic education in the Diocese of Austin. It also raises tuition assistance funds for each of the 22 Catholic schools in the diocese. The seventh annual event will be held Jan. 24 at the Hyatt Town Lake in downtown Austin. The Khaki and Plaid reception begins at 6 p.m. with dinner and awards presentation beginning at 7 p.m. At the conclusion of dinner, the After School Party begins with live music provided by The Bravados. Since 2009, more than 2,750 people have attended Celebrating Catholic Schools. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and attendees, the event has returned $343,000 to schools in support of tuition assistance, expecting the lives of more than 8,000 students. To date the event has honored 155 individuals for their service and support of CENTRAL TEXAS Bishop Mulvey helps celebrate Catholic schools our schools, said Jean Bondy, the associate director of Catholic school development and marketing at Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Austin. Every school selects an honoree from within their school community. It could be a parent, faculty or staff member, a benefactor or anyone who has given their time, talent and treasure to help support our schools, Bondy said. This year s keynote speaker is Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Bishop Mulvey has deep roots at the Diocese of Austin, as he formerly served as the chancellor and vicar general. In addition, he has close ties with Catholic education here, as he served as chaplain at Reicher Catholic High School in Waco from 1984 to 1986, and helped found St. Helen Catholic School in Georgetown. Suzanne Leggett, admissions and development director at St. Theresa s Catholic School in Austin, is one of the honorees at this year s dinner. Leggett began her association with St. Theresa as a parent in 1999 and all three of her children attended the school: Emily Frances is now a senior at Texas A&M University, majoring in English and earning her teaching certi cate; Ryan is a junior, also at A&M, majoring in communication and business; Annie Rose is a sophomore at Westwood High School in Round Rock. At rst, Leggett worked as a classroom aide, and then in the school of ce. Ten years ago she was offered the position as admissions and development director, which matched well with her background in marketing and public relations. Leggett said it s very humbling and just a huge honor to be chosen as one of this year s award winners. St. Theresa Catholic School is a place she treasures with all her heart. We have families that truly value Catholic education and who will do whatever it takes to get the school where it needs to be. That allows us to get and keep great teachers. It s so beautiful to see families who roll up their sleeves and help out wherever they can, Leggett said. There s such a pride when we go. I feel this every time. Like when I go to diocesan events and see many movers and shakers in our community that are Catholic, Leggett said. It s wonderful to feel that in the room. We are vocal and energetic showing our support and we genuinely enjoy coming together. She encourages people to attend the Celebrating Catholic Schools event. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are available for the Celebrating Catholic Schools event at celebrating-catholic-schools. For more information about Catholic Schools, visit or contact Jean Bondy at org or (512) Deacon John Peca died Nov. 9 Deacon John Peca died Nov. 9 at the age of 70. He was the rst deacon ordained for the Austin Diocese in He served the parishes of St. Paul in Austin, St. Cath- DEACON John Peca erine of Siena in Austin and St. Anthony in Kyle. Deacon Peca was born in New York and served in the U.S. Air Force. He was married to his wife, Yolanda, for 42 years, and they have two daughters and three grandsons. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Nov. 14 at St. Anthony Parish in Kyle and Deacon Peca was laid to rest with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. 3 JOE WOLF Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Granger EDDIE MAZUREK Austin, Smithville, Blanco, Bastrop, Wimberley TED PATAKI Cedar Park, Taylor, West Austin LOUIS BARRON Pflugerville, Hutto, Elgin DOUG DEGROOT Georgetown, Marble Falls, Burnet PAUL LALLY Round Rock, North Austin JODY SUPAK LaGrange, Giddings, Somerville, Texas A&M DOUG SUPAK Bryan-College Station, Brenham, Caldwell DWAIN DUNGEN Fayetteville, Columbus CLINT HAJOVSKY Temple, Rockdale, Hearne, Mexia WILLIAM JENSEN Dripping Springs, South Austin CHARLES GUENAT Temple, Belton TOM SUPAK AGENCY SERVING THE AUSTIN DIOCESE Tom Supak, General Agent Call Tom to learn about career opportunities. LIFE INSURANCE DISABILITY INSURANCE LONG-TERM CARE RETIREMENT ANNUITIES

4 4 BY ENEDELIA J. OBREGÓN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT Parishioners at St. Alphonsa Syro-Malabar Catholic Church now have a home. Their church in Manor was consecrated Nov. 8 by Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath and Auxiliary Bishop Mar Joy Alappatt of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago. St. Alphonsa began as a mission of that diocese. The celebration brought Syro-Malabar priests from Dallas, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. Representing the Diocese of Austin were Father Harry Dean, vicar for priests; Deacon Ron Walker, diocesan chancellor; and Msgr. Donald J. Sawyer, pastor of Our Lady s Maronite Catholic Church. The rst Syro-Malabar Mass was celebrated on Dec. 29, 2001, by Father Paul Pudussery in the home of Joseph Varghese and his wife, Lizamma. Through the years the faithful have gathered at various churches. We started with 15 families, said George Thomas, who with his wife Maya was one of those originals. The families had met through a couple of Indian associations and thus the idea of starting a Syro-Malabar church was born. Thomas, former church board president and leader for the consecration program, said they started celebrating Mass once a month in 2002 at Dolores Parish, where Pudussery was serving. After 10 years there, they gathered at Our Lady s Maronite Catholic Church until this May, when they started meeting at St. Elizabeth Parish in P ugerville. In August, they purchased the Manor site from Mercy of God Prayer Center. Most families live in North Austin, but this place already had a church building, Thomas said. Because the facilities were here, we went with it. For parishioners it is a welcome gift as they prepare for Advent and Christmas. I m excited that there is a venue for our community to gather, said Hilda Olekangal, a newcomer to Austin who has young children. It s really nice to have our own place. Joseph Padickaparambil, recently moved from Chicago with his family and has two children. It s also about culture, he said. Our children can grow up knowing our culture. Thomas said it s a very different experience attending Mass and hearing prayers in the language he heard growing up and within the Indian culture. For the children born here, it s different, he said. There is a Mass in English for children once a month. After 11 a.m. Mass, most people stay to share lunch and socialize. It s a real social gathering, he said. Our children can make new friends. Father Dominic Perunilam was installed as pastor at the consecration. He said St. Alphonsa has about 80 families, about 50 of them active. There are 75 children in religious education classes, but he expects more as the Indian community continues to grow. Father Perunilam said the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is the second largest of the 22 Eastern Rite Churches that are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church and recognize the pope as their spiritual leader. There are 4.2 million Syro-Malabar faithful worldwide, mostly in India. We believe St. Thomas came to South India in 52 A.D. and was martyred in 72 A.D., Father Perunilam said. He was martyred and buried in India. CENTRAL TEXAS This makes the Syro-Malabar Church older than many Latin Rite churches. St. Thomas is believed to have founded seven Christian communities in what is now Kerala on the Southeast coast of India. Therefore, early Christians in India were known as St. Thomas Christians. They were also called Nazranis, meaning those who follow the path of Jesus of Nazareth. From the fourth century until the end of the 16th century, St. Thomas Christians were governed by bishops appointed and sent by the Patriarch of the East Syrian Church. With the arrival of the Roman Catholic Portuguese in the 16th century, East Syrian bishops stopped coming to India and the Latin Church exercised full authority for almost three centuries. The Thomas Christians later got divided into several groups, and the group that remained faithful to Rome became known as the Syro-Malabar Church. Syro- Malabar literally means Syrian Christians of the Malabar Coast (which is now the Indian State of Kerala). Father Perunilam said the Syro-Malabar Church closely follows the Latin Rite liturgical calendar. The same colorful vestments, however, are worn year-round. While the Roman Church has seven seasons, the Syro- Malabar Church has nine: Annunciation, which centers around the Nativity; Epiphany, public life; Great Feast, the Paschal Mysteries; Resurrection, the Resurrection; Apostles, Pentecost; summer, growth of Church; Elijah-Cross, Trans- guration; Moses, Glori cation of Cross; and Dedication of the Church, Parousia. Because Parousia falls in November, St. Alphonsa Church was not consecrated until Nov. 8 even though the feast day for the patron saint is July 28. Mass is said in Malayalam, an Indian dialect, although it is also offered it English. It lasts about an hour and 15 minutes and there is much singing. Just as in the Latin Rite, men and women in consecrated life do not marry. Father Perunilam said that St. Alphonsa is the 34th Syro- Malabar parish in the U.S. There are 36 missions, all which fall under the jurisdiction of the CATHOLIC SPIRIT New home is blessed for Syro-Malabar parish YOUNG CHIL- DREN welcome Bishop Mar Jacob Jacob Angadiath and Auxiliary Bishop Mar Joy Alapatt, both from the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, to the consecration of St. Alphonsa Syro- Malabar Catholic Church. (Photo by Enedelia J. Obregón) BISHOP MAR JACOB ANGADIATH cuts the ribbon at the door of St. Alphonsa Syro- Malabar Catholic Church in Manor. The parish, which has about 80 families, purchased their permanent location from Mercy of God Prayer Center. (Photo by Enedelia J. Obregón) Chicago diocese, which oversees the U.S. and Canada. The diocese is also relatively new, having just been established in Parishioners chose St. Alphonsa as their patron saint because she was the rst native-born Indian saint. She was born Anna Muttathupadathu on Aug. 19, 1910, to a wealthy family of Syro-Malabar Christians. Her mother died soon after giving birth to her prematurely and she was raised by a maternal aunt. Annakutty meaning little Anna as she was affectionately called, wanted to enter convent at an early age, but her aunt insisted in nding a suitable husband. To make herself unattractive, Annakutty sought to burn her feet, but instead fell in the re and severely burned her legs. Her aunt gave in and allowed her to enter the convent of the Congregation of the Franciscan Clarists on Aug. 2, She took the name Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception upon making her nal vows on May 19, She suffered from several illnesses throughout her short life. She died on July 28, She is the patron saint against illnesses. She was canonized on Oct. 12, 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Alphonsa Syro- Malabar Catholic Church is located at 8701 Burleson Rd. in Manor. For more information, visit or call (512)

5 December 2014 CENTRAL TEXAS Texas bishops offer guidance on end-of-life issues BY PEGGY MORACZEWSKI CORRESPONDENT The Texas Catholic Conference (TCC) recently hosted an event on end-of-life issues at St. Edward s University in Austin. Panels comprised of distinguished religious and professional individuals educated attendees regarding end-of-life care policies, principles and pastoral care. The TCC is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops of Texas. This particular forum addressed the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA) passed in 1999 and communicated how a bill, such as Senate Bill 303 (SB303), would enhance the original TADA. SB303 passed the Texas Senate in 2013, but did not make it to the House oor prior to the end of the legislative session. A new bill, with a new number, will be introduced during the 2015 session. Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso provided some background, explaining that, although the (1999 TADA) law is not perfect, bishops and pro-life groups supported the law, regarding it as incremental legislation. The structure of the law provides basic protection and seeks to respect human dignity, he said. A con ict with Catholic teaching occurs because, according to Texas law, arti cial nutrition and hydration can be withdrawn. Saint John Paul II provided clarity about life-sustaining treatments: A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a vegetable or an animal. The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), according to the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scienti c Advances and Ethical Dilemmas from Individual panelists focused on speci c components of the overall topic. Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and Jennifer Carr Allmon, associate director of the TCC, shared current points of the law that are challenging and essential objective criteria that would improve the law. Referencing SB303 as an example of recommended changes to TADA, Bishop Olson stated that, while far from a perfect proposal, (it) is a vast improvement over the current law and without it we will never move forward in protecting the basic rights of the chronically ill and disabled. It is an important measure against the euthanasia and assisted suicide movement. It is fundamentally in consort with Catholic moral teaching. Beyond the issue of nutrition and hydration, Allmon said it is very problematic that the law is silent on do not resuscitate (DNR) orders and the law also needs Pastoral care is about relationship. Remembering who we are dealing with, that beautiful child of God needs to be held sacred, even to death. It involves walking with the family and individual through the process of the disease until the moment, by God s choice, life ceases. Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler to clarify issues surrounding an ethics committee review. As co-chair of the Seton Medical Center Ethics Committee, cardiologist Dr. David Zientek, provided insight into how stressful end-of-life issues are for everyone involved, including the dying patient, family and friends, physicians and medical staff. Cases brought to the ethics committee are rare and the vast majority of decisions are done at the patient s bedside. Keynote speaker, Dr. John M. Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), emphasized the intrinsic dignity of the human person. We don t eliminate suffering by eliminating the person who is suffering, he said. He pointed out that as Catholics, we become one with Christ and unite our pain with his suffering on Calvary. In the case of a person nearing the end of life, palliative care is appropriate and encouraged in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pastoral care for end-oflife issues brought the discussion full-circle. Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, said, Pastoral care is about relationship. Remembering who we are dealing with, that beautiful child of God needs to be held sacred, even to death. It involves walking with the family and individual through the process of the disease until the moment, by God s choice, life ceases. Deacon Charlie Stump, director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Dallas, shared his extensive personal experiences and grasp of pastoral care of the dying. He generously offered to share his presentation on advance directives with any parish interested in starting a Pastoral Care Ministry. Father Louis Brussati, associate professor at St. Edward s University and member of the Seton Ethics Committee, reminded attendees that the letting-go-of-life is very different for many people. Early on in his pastoral training at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., he recalled terror in the eyes of a dying man who believed in absolutely nothing. His compassionate advice included, It s OK to let go; God is there. Resources for patients, families and surrogates, are available through NCBC at Resources include a Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions, a help line with free consultation services and a Catholic Durable Power-of-Attorney form. For more details on Catholic teachings on Advance Directives, go to 5 DCYC 2015 January Waco Convention Center Check with your parish Youth Minister to see how you can sign up for our best DCYC yet! Paul J Kim HOST & KEYNOTE Doug Tooke KEYNOTE Ben Walther FEATURED BAND

6 6 Filipino traditions come to Austin Simbang Gabi Masses will be celebrated in the Austin area Dec Simbang Gabi is a Filipino tradition that marks the celebration and welcome of Christ s birth. Bishop Joe Vásquez will celebrate the rst Mass on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at St. Louis Parish in Austin. The subsequent Masses will be held Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. at St. Albert the Great Parish in Austin, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at Seton Williamson Medical Center Chapel in Round Rock, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at St. Paul Parish in Austin, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Austin, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Austin, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. at St. Albert the Great Parish in Austin, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. at St. Louis Parish in Austin and Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. at St. Albert the Great Parish in Austin. Give the gift of Marriage Encounter Married couples who need the perfect gift for one another this Christmas are invited to give the gift of time and love by attending a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend. Upcoming weekends are Feb and May at Cedarbrake Retreat Center in Belton. The weekend begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. and ends Sunday around 4 p.m. For more information or to apply to attend, visit the website or contact Steve and Linda Jaramillo at (512) 677-WWME (9963) or Cedarbrake retreats for 2015 Love Among the Ruins The Book of Hosea will be presented Jan. 17 at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton. Father Angelo Bertini will discuss God s unconditional love based on the book of Hosea. The cost is $35, which includes lunch. There are many retreats coming to Cedarbrake in For more information or to register, visit or contact Cedarbrake at or call (254) CENTRAL TEXAS CATHOLIC SPIRIT TEC retreat for ages is Jan. 2-4 TEC (Together Encounter Christ) is an intergenerational movement focused on the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. TEC of Central Texas will be held Jan. 2-4 at Eagle s Wings Retreat Center in Burnet. Weekends are lled with witness talks, group discussions, personal re ections/prayer, recreations and live music. The TEC audience is young adults ages 17 (or a second semester junior) to 24 years of age. Adults above the age of 24 who would like to serve on a TEC retreat are invited to do so, rst as an adult observing cadidate, then as part of the team. For more information, visit or call (512) Pro-Life Mass moves to new location Texas Catholic Pro-Life Day is Jan. 24 in Austin. The day will begin at 7 a.m. with a prayer vigil for life at Planned Parenthood (201 E. Ben White Blvd. in Austin). A rosary for life will be prayed at 9:15 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Austin. Bishop Joe Vásquez will celebrate the diocesan Pro-Life Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Parish. The March for Life will begin at 1 p.m. at 1600 N. Congress, and participants will proceed to the Texas Rally for Life on the south steps of the State Capitol. For more information, contact the diocesan Pro-Life Of ce at (512) Diocesan youth conference is Jan The Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference (DCYC) will be held at the Waco Convention Center Jan At DCYC, participants will experience keynote speakers Paul Kim and Doug Tooke, sacraments, music, prayer, workshops, entertainment and more, all woven together under this year s theme of Behold. Registration is open and participants may register or nd out more information through their parish youth minister. 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7 December 2014 CENTRAL TEXAS St. Austin remembers Night of Broken Glass BY ENEDELIA J. OBREGÓN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT St. Austin Parish in Austin has chosen to remember Kristallnacht, one of those anniversaries that many would rather forget. For three days in November, the Austin parish presented a multi-media exhibit to commemorate the events that took place throughout Germany on Nov. 9-10, That night thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed, more than 200 synagogues were burned and dozens of people were killed. The violence set the stage for the Holocaust, which killed 6 million out of the 9 million Jews who lived in the 21 countries occupied by Germany during World War II. The seminal event was referred to as Kristallnacht or the night of broken glass because shards of glass were everywhere following the res and destruction. Police and re ghters were on hand to protect only Christian establishments. Jews were made to clean up and then ned 1 billion German marks for the mess. The exhibit Lynn Hayden is the volunteer curator who rst developed the exhibit in 2000 and again in 2001 with the help of the nearby Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. This year, the exhibit contained items and information from the nearby Nueces Mosque. Paulist Father Charles Kullmann, pastor of St. Austin, thought it was time to hold another exhibit in light of the religious con ict and violence around the world. It s all very real in our world and in our community, he said. We need to take the opportunity to understand and educate ourselves about the need to be respectful, understanding and tolerant of others. Father Kullmann said it s important for Christians not to isolate themselves and to learn about other cultures and faiths because Jesus told his disciples to go out to all the nations and proclaim the Good News. He said Pope Francis is also asking us to share the Good News. We are supposed to share that with others, he said. But the rst thing we have to do is respect others. The exhibit began outdoors with a pile of burned books in one area near the entrance to Newman Hall. Dozens of ceramic stars of David created by art students in Diane Hardin s class at St. Austin Catholic School lled the parish fountain. Each star had an inscription of a person who might be forced to wear that star today: homeless, handicapped, homosexual, Latino, Asian and even Jesus. Another pile contained battered suitcases and coats for adults and children, each with a yellow star of David sewn on seemingly thrown down by owners who never returned for them. Hayden spent months gathering materials and furniture borrowed from St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, including STUDENTS FROM ST. AUSTIN CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN AUSTIN study the Kristallnacht exhibit at St. Austin Parish. The exhibit included a lot of information on the Holocaust and the Jewish religion. (Photo by Enedelia J. Obregón) everyday items such as dishes that were broken and scattered about the indoor Room of Destruction, which was surrounded by yellow caution tape. She burned old books in her replace to replicate what the Germans did in Jewish homes. Gigantic laminated yellow Stars of David adorned the walls of one room with the word Jew in different languages of the German-occupied countries. One frame is special. It contains remnants of a blueand-white striped uniform with the sewn-in Star of David and the number The corresponding number would have been tattooed on the forearm of its wearer. The clothing is owned by Gregg Philipson of the Texas Commission on the Holocaust. A short video with black and white images of the destruction of Kristallnacht was accompanied by dissonant music meant to resemble the chaos and shattering of glass. A timeline of the Holocaust occupied one wall and included an English copy of the Kristallnacht edict. The experience Deacon John de la Garza from St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Horseshoe Bay was one of the early visitors. It s incumbent on us to be uncomfortable when we see this, he said. Many Christians, he noted, did nothing to stop the violence against Jews. He quoted Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel: What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander. Deacon de la Garza said we have to learn to live in such a way that we are not bystanders. We (Catholics) can be very insular. But Jesus was not an insular person. And neither is Pope Francis, he said. Too often, we get comfortable in our traditions, Deacon de la Garza said. Anything or anyone who seems different is deemed a threat, heightening our fears. That fear leads us into inhumane thoughts and actions, he said. Some of the students from St. Austin Catholic School were docents and viewed the exhibit before the rest of the students did. Among them were several seventh graders. It s sad that people were killed just because of their faith, said Joshua Esparza. Elissa Atkinson found the Room of Destruction to be the scariest. It s an example of a house destroyed, she said. That would be really scary if it were my house. It was horrible that nobody did anything to help. Hayden Covert said he had not known how widespread the Holocaust was until he saw the stars of David from so many countries. History A poster explained that the Jews, Christians and Muslims had once lived in relative peace in the kingdoms that eventually became uni ed Spain. Medicine, science, the arts and commerce ourished from 711 to about 1031, coinciding with the Middle Ages in Western Europe. That ended for good with the military conquest of the Muslims by Spain and the expulsion of Jews in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The exhibit included music and religious items re ecting the in uences of the three faiths. What lled Hayden with hope is Besa, a book by Norman H. Gerhman about Albanian Muslims who saved thousands of Jews during World War II. Besa, which means to keep the promise, is an ethical code deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in their Muslim faith that demands responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need. Not doing so brings great shame and dishonor not only to an individual but to the family as well. We didn t know about it because of Communism, Hayden said, referring to the Communist take-over of the country after the war. They see their house as God s house, and you take in the stranger as if they were family. According to Yad Vashem, Albania was the only European country with a Muslim majority and lost members of only one Jewish family to the Holocaust. Albanians provided Jews with fake identity papers and Jews lived openly with the Muslim population. By the end of the war, Albania had more Jews than it did at the beginning of the war. 7 THE KRISTALL- NACHT exhibit at St. Austin Parish addressed the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, when Jewish businesses were destroyed and set on re. (Photo by Enedelia J. Obregón)

8 8 BY HANNAH M. HEPFER CORRESPONDENT St. Edward s University in Austin unveiled a major renovation of Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel on Oct. 21. Bishop Joe Vásquez celebrated the Mass of Dedication, blessed the new walls of the sanctuary and consecrated a new altar. The chapel has been the spiritual home of the campus for countless students, faculty and staff who have attended Mass, weddings and funerals on the hilltop for the last 65 years. Bishop Vásquez delivered Mass to a lled chapel, while over owing worshippers watched a live broadcast in the nearby Jones Auditorium. A Catholic university chapel is the heart of the campus. Students and faculty gather and pray in order to nourish the mission of the church. Here, people should come with their worries, fears, hopes and dreams, con dent that Christ will be present. It is primarily through the sacraments, celebrated here, that Christ the way, the truth, and the life is encountered, the bishop said during his homily. The Mass included the blessing and sprinkling of water, the Litany of Saints, anointing of the altar and walls with sacred chrism, and incensing and lighting of the altar and chapel. A relic of St. André Bessette, a Holy Cross brother canonized in 2010, was deposited in the altar during the rite of dedication. A chalice belonging to the founder of St. Edward s University, Father Edward Sorin, was CENTRAL TEXAS CATHOLIC SPIRIT St. Edward s celebrates newly renovated chapel BY CATHOLIC SPIRIT STAFF Catholic Charities of Central Texas (CCCTX) was recently honored by the Texas Pregnancy Care Network (TPCN) for having the highest client retention rate among non-maternity home TPCN providers. TPCN presented its 2014 Journey for Life Award to CCCTX at its recent conference. A provider s retention rate is determined by the number of times a client returns for services during a pregnancy or the rst year of a child s life. We are so pleased to learn that our client retention rate is the highest among the network s providers, said Sara Ramirez, CCCTX executive director. The funding we receive through TPCN is instrumental in our ability to support women and men as they navigate crisis pregnancies and work to give their children a healthy start at life, she said. TPCN, a program of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, administers the state-funded Texas Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, a network of pregnancy support centers, maternity residences and social services agencies. Catholic Charities provides OUR LADY QUEEN OF PEACE CHAPEL sits on the campus of St. Edward s University in Austin. Bishop Joe Vásquez blessed the newly renovated chapel on Oct. 21. (Photo by Hannah M. Hepfer) used during the celebration of the Eucharist. Bishop Vásquez said that the most important part of the evening s liturgy was the dedication of the altar because it serves as a visible sign of the invisible God. He emphasized that the altar represents Christ and is the focal point of every Catholic Church and chapel. Because of the altar, the memorial of the Lord is celebrated and from it, Christ s body and blood is given to the people. The altar is both a place of sacri ce and a table of the paschal banquet. It is a table of sacri ce [because] on it, the sacri ce of Jesus and his oblation on the cross is perpetuated and made present, he said. This place is truly worthy to be called House of God. The renovation resolved the chapel s previous structural challenges and improved its ability to serve the needs of the campus community. Prior to the renovation, the building was stretched to capacity, often leaving students to stand during Mass, especially at Sunday evening services. The sanctuary was relocated to the north side of the chapel to make better use of the space, increasing the number of seats from around 225 to 275. The original oak oors were restored and ample natural light streams through the chapel s many windows. Other changes included the installation of new liturgical furnishings made from natural materials. Along with receiving a new altar, the chapel also has a new tabernacle, cruci x, baptismal font, ambry and lectern. Each was crafted by local artisans with the lumber of campus trees that were damaged in a storm and removed during the renovation project. Wood from Sorin Oak, the campus s beloved tree, was used to make small crosses that were placed on each of the chapel s four walls. Originally built in 1897, the chapel was an auditorium, theater, woodworking and blacksmith shop, bowling alley, barracks, and a shooting range before becoming Our Lady of Victory Chapel in 1947 and given its current name in Holy Cross Father Peter Walsh, director of Campus Ministry at St. Edward s, said he appreciated that simplicity was TPCN-funded services to eligible clients at its Gabriel Project Life Center locations in Austin and Bryan. Services include oneon-one consultations and an earn-while-you-learn program in which parents and parents-to-be can earn points toward needed baby items as they attend classes on topics such as child safety and nutrition, prenatal and postpartum health, and breastfeeding. Allison Cavazos, CCCTX director of social services, attributes the program s retention rate to its strong education program and one-on-one support. The foundation of our a priority in the design of the chapel, so that the sacredness of the building was honored. The simple beauty of the space will be inspiring to students, he said. The chapel has already been received well by students. Taylor Lawson, a sophomore, said she is looking forward to having a solid space to come to express my faith. In addition to the chapel renovation, Mang House, which held campus ministry staff and volunteers, was demolished and the Brother Stephen Walsh, CSC 62 Campus Ministry Building was constructed. Brother Walsh was the university s youngest president and program is building relationships with women and men as they experience pregnancy and grow as parents, Cavazos said. Our clients repeatedly tell us that while the earn-while-you-learn program is their initial draw to Catholic Charities, they keep coming back for the initiated New College, the adult undergraduate program, and the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), to assist the needs of children of migrant workers. The building will be a gathering hub for hospitality, prayer, learning and service. An all-faiths meditation garden, a contemplative space for re ection, connects the new building and the chapel. Father Walsh is excited about the impact that the renovation will have on the campus. I hope the chapel will be a visual call to prayer. As students are rushing by, they ll see a welcoming space, a space to pray and decompress from the stresses of college life, he said. CCCTX receives award for pregnancy services knowledge and support we provide. CCCTX pregnancy and parenting support services are available to parents from conception until their child s rst birthday. For more information, visit or call (512) Celebrate life with CCCTX Catholic Charities of Central Texas will hold the fourth annual Celebrate Life Dinner, bene ting its services in the Brazos Valley, from 6:30 8 p.m. Feb. 5 at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in College Station. A reception preceding the dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m. For more information about sponsorship opportunities or attending the event, visit or contact CCCTX Associate Director of Development Annie Chavez at or (512)

9 December 2014 BY CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Though there were no actions on the U.S. bishops agenda in Baltimore dealing with immigration, poverty and other public policy issues, the president of their conference said Nov. 11 that he hopes to meet with President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders soon on several topics. In a brief comment during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., said he had heard from many of his brother bishops about those issues and hopes conferring with the politicians will supplement the work that committees and USCCB staff are doing. He told Catholic News Service that he intends to pursue a meeting with the president and congressional leaders as soon as December. In other action at the Nov meeting, the bishops: Approved several English-language liturgical items, including a revised translation of the ritual book used whenever a new church is built or when a new altar is made; the rst of cial English translation of the ritual book Exorcisms and Related Supplications; and a supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours that is an English translation of the prayers used for the feast days of saints who have been added to the general calendar since Voted to proceed with a revision of a section of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services dealing with partnerships. Approved a 2015 budget of just under $189.5 million. They also voted on a 3 percent increase in the diocesan assessment for 2016, but the vote fell short of the required two-thirds majority of the 197 bishops required to approve it. Eligible members absent from the Baltimore meeting will be canvassed to determine the nal vote. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, gave a presentation on the newly revised Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers in the United States. As the number of priests and pastoral ministers from other countries increases in the U.S., he said the resource now in its third edition provides information for dioceses, eparchies and religious IN OUR WORLD Bishop s approve liturgical items, elect of cials BY MARK PATTISON CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE communities to prepare international ministers for their service and help the communities that receive them. The bishops also heard a report on the work of various committees pro-life, domestic justice, international justice, evangelization and religious liberty which together are trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or disregard church teaching. The compilation of vast data is being assembled for bishops to read and also will be relayed in series of workshops. One of the major ndings from the study that Catholics want to nd out more about their faith has prompted plans for a 2017 convocation in Orlando, Fla., the week of July 4. In considering the bishops ethical directives for Catholic health care, the discussion focused on whether to revise Part 6, Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations. It will take into account principles suggested by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Once completed, the revision will be presented to the bishops for nal approval. In elections, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans won the secretaryelect spot. The committee chairmen-elect are: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, pro-life activities; Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis, communications; Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, cultural diversity; Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, doctrine; Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala., national collections. Each will assume their of ces next November for a three-year term. The meeting included reports on the recently concluded extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family; Catholic education and an outreach to Hispanic students in underserved communities; the progress of planning for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia; the status of the USCCB strategic plan, The New Evangelization: Faith, Worship, Witness ; the 2015 Fortnight of Freedom; and the defense of marriage. Several bishops who participated in the synod talked about their experience there, and also discussed it in one of three news conferences during the meeting s public sessions. (See story below) Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., reported on a 12-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land in September. Eighteen bishops visited sacred sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and met with people who helped them understand the struggles of the people of each faith. We know peace is possible, Bishop Cantu said, because God is our hope. But after another Gaza war, hope is now in short supply. What is needed now is the transformation of human hearts, so that one side s hearts is less deaf to the concerns of the other. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the committee extended for another three years planned to focus more on teaching and expanding networks with Catholic lay groups and interfaith and ecumenical partners. He said threats to religious liberty remain a great concern. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia formally opened its arms to the world as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced that registration has of cially begun for the World Meeting of Families next year there. Cardinal Dolan discusses the Tale of two synods October s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family was just one event, but a tale of two synods emerged from it, according to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Speaking to reporters Nov. 10 after the morning session of the USCCB s annual fall general assembly in Baltimore, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., acknowledged the differences in the synod experienced by the bishops participating in it and news accounts disseminated outside the synod. Those differences were highlighted by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York in remarks delivered during the assembly s morning session. There must have been two synods, he said, and the participating U.S. bishops happened to be at the wrong one. From what he said he had heard and read about the synod, one synod was confrontational and divisive, hijacked by left-wing dissenters intent on eluding doctrine, with proceedings smothered by new Ottavianis, dug in to resist the fresh breeze of change, Cardinal Dolan said, referring to Italian Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani known for his opposition to the changes being brought about in the church during the Second Vatican Council. Too bad we missed that one, Cardinal Dolan added. The one we were at was hardly as spicy (and) juicy. The synod Cardinal Dolan said he attended was a synod of consensus. This synod was led by a pope with a radical charism for attentive listening, he said of Pope Francis, adding the only time the pope spoke was in reciting the Angelus twice. At this synod, we listened to married couples who found God s love in one another and their kids, Cardinal Dolan said. At this synod, we listened to bishops form Africa who said the (church s) teaching on marriage, so widely dismissed in the First World, was enhancing their culture.... We saw brother bishops asking how we can expedite and simplify marriage (annulment) cases. It was at this synod, Cardinal Dolan said, that life-giving marriage was the focus of meeting the most urgent vocation crisis of the times. Archbishop Kurtz, in addressing his fellow bishops, noted that each one of the 62 paragraphs that constituted the nal relatio, or report, of the synod met with majority approval and all but three of the paragraphs with approval by at least two-thirds of those voting. It was at this synod, Cardinal Dolan said, that life-giving marriage was the focus of meeting the most urgent vocation crisis of the times. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, at a news conference following the morning session, said Pope Francis had asked that the votation be published along with the text to indicate the degree of accord shared at the synod. Archbishop Kurtz said there were 12 documents in all to be considered at the synod before the nal relatio was discussed: the rst two relatios one offered at the synod s beginning and a second draft issued mid-synod plus separate documents produced by each of 10 small working groups. The work of the second relatio was the work of the small groups, Archbishop Kurtz told reporters. Cardinal Wuerl added that press covering the synod and those bishops participating in it have different perspectives. So many people tend to re ect now in terms of sound bites, he said. In the church, we re learning to speak a little more crisply, but our teaching is not reducible to sound bites. He noted it took some time for the nal relatio to be translated into English from the of cial Italian. But he urged the bishops to wait for the translation, noting that the nal relatio serves as the lineamenta, or outline, for next year s world Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Kurtz said the Vatican was holding a meeting later in November to construct a system of re ection for bishops conferences to use in seeking input from dioceses to be used in preparation for next year s synod. 9

10 10 Families are welcome to bring an ornament for our Jesse Tree in memory of a loved one at our Rosary & Caroling on December 13 at 9:30am Christmas Refreshments to Follow IN OUR WORLD CATHOLIC SPIRIT Agenda for family meeting doesn t shy away from issues BY MATTHEW GAMBINO CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE A glance at the topics to be presented at next year s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, including premarital sex, homosexuality, infertility and celibacy, might give the impression that it s all about sexuality and the Catholic Church s teaching on it. But Mary Beth Yount, a theology professor at Neumann University and director of content and programming for the World Meeting of Families, believes it is much more than that. It s not all about sex, she said. We re pulling in the larger context, not just human sexuality and not just family relationships. This is for all people in all walks of life: married, dating, single by choice, celibate. Organizers of the Sept , 2015, meeting that is expected to draw some 12,000 individuals and families from around the world have posted the preliminary congress agenda on the website displaying the daily schedule of of cial congress events held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Now that Pope Francis has said he will attend the meeting, the planning has become even more intense. The congress will examine how best to be in human relationship with God and each other, Yount said. What are the ways we can live fruitful lives? Sexuality, she said, doesn t just mean people having sex. That is a fundamental expression that includes married people, but it also means engaging the world in other ways. It s a self-giving love: married people, people single by choice, and celibacy. The congress doesn t shy away from topics such as divorce, interfaith marriage, dealing with disabilities and addictions in families, and the emotional pain caused by damaged relationships. In developing content for the World Meeting of Families, Yount believes it is as important to acknowledge the pain and brokenness of life as to emphasize the positive message of Catholic teaching. We re focusing on the positive, from the beginning, she told, the Philadelphia Archdiocese s news website. Church teachings aren t oppressive dictates. The focus is on the faith, (exploring) what is our ultimate relationship with God and its richness, and how do we live it out? How can we support each other to live the lives we want to live, in our family, our parish and our wider church? Speci c biographies of presenters and session descriptions were still being worked out. But already the lineup presents an impressive array of speakers, many of whom are well-known advocates for the topics they will address over the four days of the congress. The rst keynote address of the congress will be Living as the Image of God: Created for Joy and Love, delivered Sept. 22 by Father Robert Barron. The rector of the Chicago Archdiocese s Mundelein Seminary and host of the landmark DVD series Catholicism, Father Barron is one of the most popular Catholic speakers in America today. The next day will begin a pattern to be repeated in each of the following days two keynote sessions per day followed by a choice of 13 to 14 breakout sessions, each accommodating between 700 and 1,000 people. Yount estimated that 75 percent of the breakout sessions will offer practical skills related to the keynote s topic. Each hour-long keynote talk, translated for participants into at least four other languages, takes as its theme a portion of the World Meeting of Families preparatory catechesis, Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive. The document was edited by Philadelphia resident Christopher Roberts and approved by the Ponti cal Council for the Family at the Vatican. It presents Catholic teaching on the family and its vital role in society. Boston Cardinal Sean P. O Malley will deliver the keynote talk the morning of Sept. 23. His theme of The Light of the Family in a Dark World will draw from the catechism s teaching of the family as a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, patience and humility in the midst of a world darkened by sel shness and con ict. At the same time in the convention center, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will speak on poverty and immigration issues in Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor... and French author and theologian Yves Semen will speak on his specialty of the theology of the body and its intersection with politics and economics in Can Society Exist Without the Family? Meanwhile, a talk on the concerns of the family in the inner city will be delivered by the Rev. Terrence D. Grif th, pastor of First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia and president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity. He is among the 24 percent of speakers at the congress who are not from the Catholic tradition including Protestant Christian, Mormon, Jewish and Muslim but who nonetheless offer experience and expertise to the congress content, even if many speakers are not household names. One of the keynotes Sept. 24 and many of the breakouts will deal with the topic of sexuality, with such issues as the hook-up culture of premarital sex; a study of Blessed Pope Paul VI s encyclical Humane Vitae ( On Human Life ); infertility; and homosexuality. The World Meeting of Families wraps up Sept. 25. African Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, president of the Ponti cal Council Cor Unum, will speak on The Joy of the Gospel of Life. Visit and click on Employment for job postings. All postings have a link to the application for employment, which can be mailed or submitted electronically. A RETREAT WITH Rev. Ron Rolheiser, OMI Living with Less Fear In Our Lives: Trusting in a Wise, Prodigal, and Fully Empathic God This retreat will examine the origins and the complexities of religious fear and, after giving fear its proper due, will examine some biblical principles which invite us to live with less fear. February 22-26, 2015 Oblate Renewal Center 5700 Blanco Rd., San Antonio, TX Registration fee: $590 ( includes all meals) Early Bird Rate*$550 by Dec. 5, 2014* Lodging also available: single $60 per night or double $38 per night per person 330 Berry Lane Georgetown, Texas (512) To register, call Brenda at , ext. 212 or visit

11 December 2014 BY MARK PATTISON CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE IN OUR WORLD Challenges identi ed in feeding the world s hungry With projections putting the planet s population at 9 billion by 2050, the question of how to feed them is taking on evergreater importance. But at the Faith, Food & the Environment symposium Nov. 5-7 in St. Paul, Minn., held at the University of St. Thomas and sponsored by more than a dozen Catholic and agricultural organizations, some speakers suggested the question may need to be asked differently. It s the wrong question, said Fred Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center of Iowa State University, giving people a moral justi cation to continue doing more of what they ve been doing. Kirschenmann said enough food is being grown today to feed 10 billion people, yet 1 billion people remain chronically hungry. It s a problem of poverty, it s a problem of entitlement, it s a problem of inequality, he said. It s also a problem of waste. Estimates put the amount of waste at 40 percent of all food grown. If you re throwing away 40 percent of what is produced, is it optimal to produce 20 percent more? asked Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, chief of staff to Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Ponti cal Institute for Peace and Justice, one of the symposium s sponsors. The waste rate doesn t come from people sliding uneaten food from their plates into a wastebasket or garbage disposal. The major of that wasted food, he said, is left rotting in farmers elds because they know the buyers of their crops do not want any blemished merchandise. Kirschenmann said a French supermarket chain addressed the problem by stocking blemished produce and selling it at 30 percent off the prices asked for their unblemished counterparts. The tactic was so successful, he added, you know what the problem is now? Supply. Calvin DeWitt, a professor at the University of Wisconsin s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, took a different perspective. He said the problem is not how much food is grown, but who grows the food. Most people living in developing countries, he argued, are subsistence farmers, They often grow enough to feed their family and to sell some at a nearby market. Their way of life, and existence, is threatened by such variables as bad weather and war, turning a hardscrabble life into one that could result in uprooting themselves from their land and seek refuge in big cities, if not other countries. Hauling freighters full of wheat and other staples across oceans is not going to solve the problem DeWitt said, it will require a concerted effort to reach those farmers and their plots in advances made in farming. Those advances may include genetically modi ed organisms. Some nations have refused to allow them, and some consumers in developed countries reject them. But some GMO crops may bene t the farmer with more, and more healthful crops. How to apply faith principles for GMO use? It s an interesting question -- which is my way of saying I don t know, said Christopher Thompson, academic dean of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. You have to be careful about wild experiments. But the planet s ability to feed itself may be at stake, according to Kirschenmann. Early humans, he said, were not food producers but food collectors, hunting, killing and eating prey for their subsistence. In the past 10,000 or so years, humans have engaged in a process of what Kirschenmann called slash and burn farming. This process YEMENIS receive food at a distribution center in Sana a, Yemen, Feb. 13. Speakers at a faith and farm symposium in St. Paul, Minn., discussed the ever-growing importance of how to feed the planet s people, especially in light of projections that the world s population will reach 9 billion by (CNS photo/yahya Arhab, EPA) accelerated in the last century or so through using water, petrochemicals and minerals to make the land more productive. While it has resulted in increased yields, the planet runs the risk of exhausting its resources. The Ogallala aquifer under Nebraska, said the Rev. Clifford Canku, a Presbyterian minister, member of the Dakota Indians, and a retired professor of Dakota studies at North Dakota State University. The aquifer s water reserves were built up over millions of years. But at the pace the water is now being used up, it will run dry in about 50 years, he predicted. Thinning topsoil runs the same risk. However, National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson, said the planting of cover crops after the harvest of a cash crop can restore the soil s health, cutting pesticide use by 70 percent, and increasing rainfall retention. The soil under cash crops has been degraded to the point where it can absorb about only a half-inch of rainfall, he said. But after a few cycles of planting cover crops, the same soil can retain eight 11 inches of rain. That doesn t take into account the old agrarian practice of letting land lay fallow through crop rotation practices to keep it strong. Kirschenmann said that, even when farmers ignore these practices, nature abhors the density of any species.... If one method fails, she will try another. Another, and less comfortable way of looking at the question is by asking how many people the planet can sustain. Kirschenmann said, We have to look at what the carrying capacity of the human species is, he said. I haven t heard anyone say, Oh, 9 billion or 10 billion people is all right, adding he knows that ethicists and theologians have not wanted to deal with this issue. Kirschenmann himself said he did not know what a sustainable number might be, tossing about the numbers 5 billion and 3 billion. But neither he nor anyone else at the symposium suggested how the planet might get down to a lower number.

12 12 BY DAVID AGREN CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE The Mexican bishops conference issued an impassioned plea for peace and an end to the bloodshed in a country consumed with the crisis of 43 teacher trainees allegedly captured by crooked cops, killed by organized crime and burned. With sadness we recognize that the situation of the country has worsened since 2010, when the bishops published a pastoral letter on violence unleashing a true national crisis, the bishops said Nov. 12 during their semiannual planning sessions in suburban Mexico City. Many people live subjected to fear, nding themselves helpless against the threats of criminal groups and, in some cases, the regrettable corruption of the authorities. The same day, at the end of his general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he wanted to express to the Mexicans present in St. Peter s Square, but also to those in your homeland, my spiritual closeness at this painful time. While the students are legally missing, we know they were killed, the pope said. Their disappearance and deaths make visible the dramatic reality that exists behind the sale and traf cking of drugs. Ordinary Mexicans have taken to the streets, condemning the crimes committed against the students and the apparent collusion between criminals and the political class in parts of the country. The bishops lent their support to peaceful demonstrations, which often have been led by students, and called for a day of prayer Dec. 12, when millions of Mexicans celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In our vision of faith, these acts make it evident that we have distanced ourselves from God, the bishops said. We join the generalized clamor for a Mexico in which the truth and justice provoke a deep transformation of the institutional, judicial and political order that assures that acts like these never repeat themselves, the bishops said. In the midst of this crisis, we see with hope the awakening of civil society, which as never before in recent years has protested against corruption, impunity and the complicity of some authorities. We believe it is necessary to proceed from protests to proposals. The protests and outrage are among the strongest in recent years and re ect anger with the ongoing insecurity in the country. Many have adopted the slogan, I ve had enough, echoing off-the-cuff comment of Mexico s Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam after a Nov. 7 news conference that has been interpreted by many as insensitive. It was the straw that IN OUR WORLD broke the camel s back, said Jesuit Father Conrado Zepeda, who celebrated Mass Nov. 4 at the Jesuit-run Iberoamerican University for students and four family members of the missing. It has to do with the young, students, the poor, people unable to defend themselves being attacked in this way. This is why civil society has revolted. Authorities arrested Jose Luis Abarca, mayor of Iguala, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, Nov. 4 in Mexico City, alleging they ordered the attack on the students. The couple claimed the students were coming to protest a community event planned by Pineda. Classmates said the students went to Iguala, 120 miles south of Mexico City, to collect funds for a future trip to the capital, but had their borrowed buses shot at by police who detained 43 of the teacher trainees and handed them over to members of the Guerreros Unidos gang. Murillo spelled out the details Nov. 7, saying three gang members confessed to burning the bodies in a garbage dump. Six bags of ashes and bones have been discovered at the site. Families of the missing students refuse to believe the government and said they only will accept evidence presented by Argentine forensic experts working on the case. Father Victor Manuel Aguilar, spokesman for the Diocese of Chilpancingo- Chilapa, where the students school is located, said the mistrust comes from an unhappy history of human rights abuses in Guerrero state, which is south of Mexico City and full of impoverished, indigenous communities that have been exploited and pushed to the society s margins for centuries. Justice is often delayed... if it arrives at all, he said. The case has caused outrage and a political crisis for President Enrique Pena Nieto, who had stopped speaking on security matters in an attempt to improve the image of Mexico as an investment destination. There has never been a rebuke like now, Father Aguilar said. Pena Nieto who has not visited Iguala or the students school since the tragedy, but departed for an overseas trip Nov. 8 appears to have been caught at-footed. He has proposed an allparty pact to curb crime and corruption. While not unlike the consensus he achieved to approve 11 structural reforms in areas such as education, energy and CATHOLIC SPIRIT Mexican bishops call violence a national crisis taxation, it has found tepid support. Catholic leaders have called for a change in Mexico, even though they are seen in some cities as part of the establishment rubbing shoulders with prominent politicians and businessmen and staying silent on issues such as insecurity and corruption. The reality of our present-day Mexico did not surge from one year ago or ve years ago, Bishop Francisco Moreno Barron of Tlaxcala told the Reforma newspaper. It has been gestating for a long time through corruption and impunity and I believe that it s time to put a stop to it. Protests have continued, especially in Guerrero, where students and their supporters have burned government buildings, blocked highways and marched through the tourist zone of Acapulco. Father Aguilar sees the protests continuing as long as the students whereabouts remains uncertain. We all want the student to appear alive. But if they don t appear, I think that this discontent could become radicalized, Father Aguilar said. There are people willing to do whatever it takes to make their demands known.

13 December 2014 IN OUR WORLD Love is the force behind initiating change, pope says BY CINDY WOODEN CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE The Catholic Church calls for the creation of job opportunities and the recognition of the dignity of the poor, not simply for more handouts or expanded government welfare programs, Pope Francis said. Acknowledging the dignity of every person, he said, requires a lot more than charity; it means devoting energy and imagination to creating jobs and opportunities for them to use their talents to feed their families. Pope Francis made his remarks in a video message played Nov. 20 at the Italian church s Festival of Catholic Social teaching, a gathering in Verona that included economists, business leaders and others interested in promoting social justice. As the global economic crisis continues, he said, there is a great temptation to stop and lick one s wounds, seeing them as an excuse not to hear the cry of the poor and see the suffering of those who have lost the dignity of bringing bread home because they have lost their jobs. Christians are called to look beyond their own needs, broaden their horizons and trust that by working with others, including with governments, they can unleash goodness and enjoy its fruits. Today it is said that many things cannot be done because there is no money, he said. Yet, the money for weapons can be found, the money to make war, money for unscrupulous nancial transactions. At the same time, he said, there seems to be no money to create jobs, to invest in learning, in people s talents, to plan new welfare programs or to safeguard the environment. The real problem isn t money, but people, he said. We cannot ask money to do what only people can do or create. Money alone will not create development; to promote development we need people who have the courage to take the initiative. Taking the initiative means overcoming excessive aid, he said, better on a different future and a different way of resolving problems. Pope Francis spoke about the father of a young man with Down syndrome who joined with other parents and people with Down syndrome to form a cooperative, and then found a for-pro t company willing to sell what the cooperative made. The dad, he said, needed the support offered by the state and by private organizations, but he Pope encourages all to open their hearts to Christ BY CINDY WOODEN CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Conversion to Christ is a process that lasts a lifetime, but the process stalls in the face of fear or self-satisfaction, Pope Francis said. We feel safe with what we can control, the pope said Nov. 20 at his early morning Mass. We all have fear, not of happiness no but of the joy the Lord brings, because we cannot control it. We are afraid of conversion, because to convert means to let the Lord lead us, he said at the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. The day s Gospel reading from the Gospel of St. Luke describes Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, which did not recognize the one who would bring it peace, the pope said, according to Vatican Radio. The Lord wept for the closed heart of the holy city, symbol of God s chosen people. They didn t have time to open the door. They were too busy, too self-satis ed, the pope said. Jerusalem in the Gospel was afraid of being saved along the road by the surprises of the Lord. It was afraid of the Lord, the groom, the beloved. And so Jesus wept. Jerusalem was tranquil and content. The temple functioned. The priests offered sacri ces; people came on pilgrimage; the doctors of the law had everything well ordered, everything! All of the commandments were clear, he said. And with all of this, Jerusalem had closed its doors. Still today, he said, Jesus continues knocking at the door of people s hearts and the doors of his church. I ask myself: Today we 13 was not content until he found a way to help his son make a living. If the father had not taken the initiative, the pope said, he would have been stuck asking the state for everything. When Christians look for ways to create new jobs, new ways of organizing a labor force and new ideas for employee participation schemes, Pope Francis said, they should put an important Gospel value into the mix: love. Love is a real force for change, he said. It is what makes people refuse to stop at the ordinary and predictable, giving more of themselves than they thought possible. Christians who know the faith and the catechism, who go to Mass every Sunday are we Christians, we pastors content with ourselves? he asked. Do we think we have everything just right and we don t need any more visits from the Lord? If Christians, including priests, do not open the doors of their hearts to the Lord each day, he said, the Lord weeps, still today. Upcoming Events March 7: RCIA Retreat with Tracy Rodenborn JAN. 17, LOVE AMONG THE RUINS THE BOOK OF HOSEA Join us as Fr. Angelo Bertini takes an in depth look at the Prophet Hosea. Hosea s marital problems parallels God s relationship with Israel. The theme of Hosea s preaching is divine love that is misunderstood by the people on whom it is lavished. What is our relationship with God like and how do we understand unconditional love? Cost: $35 (incl. lunch) FEB. 6-8, FIRESIDE REFLECTION I BEGIN NOW! I Begin Now! Three simple words to remind us to live in the present time in the presence of God. Life can teach us many lessons if we take time to ponder and be aware. We will look at events in our lives (challenges, obstacles and victories) and see what God is teaching us from the past to carry over into the present moment where He dwells and invites us to be one with Him. Brian Egan, Beverly Collin and Fr. Angelo Bertini will present this weekend. Cost: $195/person (private); $160/person (shared), $85/person (commuter) Seek first his kingship over you. Matthew 6: STATE HWY. 317N, TEMPLE, TX P.O. BOX 58 BELTON, TX (mailing address) FEB. 18, ASH WEDNESDAY The real sign of Lent is not the ashes but the cross. Jesus says, If anyone wants to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me. (Mk 8:35) Begin this Lenten journey by coming to Cedarbrake and reflecting on the challenges Jesus lays before us. We will begin with Mass and the distribution of ashes. Brian Egan, Beverly Collin and Fr. Angelo Bertini will present this retreat. Cost: $35 (incl. lunch) TO REGISTER FOR AN EVENT: (254) , or click on upcoming retreats Visit us online! WEBSITE: FACEBOOK:

14 14 Tax-Deferred Annuities IRAs Rollovers Do Your Long-Term & Retirement Savings Plans Stack Up? IN OUR WORLD Pope s ecumenism helps build bridges BY PATRICIA ZAPOR CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Four of the daily homilies of Pope Francis over the 19 months of his ponti cate in particular help explain the direction he has taken in ecumenism and interreligious efforts, said a priest who has served as a Vatican spokesman during e vents including the recent extraordinary Synod of Bishops. Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, a U.S. priest who also is CEO of Salt and Light Television, Canada s national Catholic network, said in a Nov. 9 workshop for bishops before their annual fall general assembly that Pope Francis daily Mass homilies and his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ( The Joy of the Gospel ), give context to his approach. In Argentina, then-cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had a rabbi among his close friends and friendships with evangelicals and Pentecostals, who have participated in events at the Vatican since he became pope. As pope, he has also reached out to other Christians, Jews and Orthodox in ways that have captivated many non-catholics, who pore over the details of Francis writings and relish activities such as his Holy Thursday visit to an Italian prison to wash the feet of inmates of diverse faiths, said Father Rosica. He said he mentioned to Pope Francis recently that people the world over are reading Evangelii Gaudium, as Father Rosica has discovered from the many invitations he receives to speak on the topic. Monica Mikeska I said to the pope, Do you realize what you re doing? The pope replied, I think so. Building bridges is the work of ecumenism, of evangelization, said Father Rosica. It s the work of going out to the whole world to proclaim the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Building walls is what fearful, insecure people do to protect what they have and keep others out. Pope Francis wants to build bridges that everyone can cross, he said, especially the poor, those who have been marginalized and social outcasts. In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis invites -- and challenges -- all of us to move beyond our comfort zones, Father Rosica said. He wants us to be warm, welcoming and forgiving. He wants us to eat with tax collectors and sinners; he wants us to forgive the woman caught in adultery (while admonishing her to sin no more); he wants us to welcome and respect foreigners (even our enemies), and, above all, not to judge others. There s nothing new in any of that, said the priest. It is only the Gospel message. It s been our mission, our mandate and our story for over 2,000 years. The four homilies Father Rosica cited date from one a month after his election as pope to as recently as Nov. 4. In the rst, he discussed the courageous attitude of St. Paul in Areopagus, when, in speaking to the Athenian crowd, the Apostle to the Gentiles sought to build bridges to proclaim the Gospel. The pope said an attitude such as Paul s that seeks dialogue is 3.50 % * APY *Includes Current Yield % CATHOLIC SPIRIT POPE FRANCIS has hosted many religious leaders at the Vatican in his 19 months as pope. He is getting more and more invitations to speak on ecumenism, says a spokesperson. (CNS photo by L Osservatore Romano via Reuters) closer to the heart of the listener and why Paul was a builder of bridges, not of walls. Last October, Father Rosica said, Pope Francis warned Christians against behaving as though the key is in their pocket and the door is closed. He talked about Christians who have the key to the church in their hand but take it away without opening the door. People who may wish to enter nd themselves on the street in front of a closed church, with excuses and justi cations given for why they cannot enter, the pope said. Worse still, said Father Rosica, citing the pope, they keep the door closed, don t allow anyone to enter and in doing so, keep on the outside themselves. When this Christian is a priest, a bishop or a pope it is worse, said Francis. The situation arises when the faith passes, so to speak through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon people. When a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith, he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought. Father Rosica said the pope went on to say that when faith becomes ideology, it chases away people and distances the church from the people. Father Rosica also quoted from an October homily this year, in which the pope spoke about unity in diversity. He used the image of a church made of living stones, as opposed to weak bricks. Humility, gentleness, magnanimity: These are weak things, because the humble person appears good for nothing; gentleness, meekness appear useless; generosity, being open to all, having a big heart, Father Rosica quoted. And then he says more: Bearing with one another through love. Bearing with one another through love, having what at heart? Preserving unity. The weaker we are with these virtues of humility, generosity, gentleness, meekness, the stronger we become as stones in this temple. The fourth key homily, according to Father Rosica, was the pope s Nov. 4 teaching on the parable of the man who gave a banquet to which he invited many, but some declined. As Pope Francis noted, Father Rosica said, In the end the invited guests prefer their own interests rather than sharing dinner together: They do not know what it means to celebrate. He said that form of self-interest makes it dif cult to listen to the voice of God, when you believe that that the whole world revolves around you: there is no horizon, because you become your own horizon. And there is more behind all of this, something far deeper: fear of gratuity. We are afraid of God s gratuity. He is so great that we fear him. Securing Families Lives Since 1901 *Interest rates are subject to change. Minimum guaranteed rate is 1.50%.

15 December 2014 BY CAROL ZIMMERMANN CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE In an effort to help lay Catholics gain a deeper understanding of religious life, priests, brothers and women religious intend to open their convents, monasteries, abbeys and religious houses to the public one day next February. If you ve ever wondered what a brother or religious sister does all day, you will nd out, said Dominican Sister Marie Bernadette Thompson in announcing the open house scheduled for Feb. 8, The open house is just one of the events for the upcoming Year of Consecrated Life, which began the weekend of Nov It will end Feb. 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life. The special year dedicated to consecrated life was announced by Pope Francis and is similar to previous themed years announced by popes such as Year of the Priest ( ) or Year of St. Paul. ( ). The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The purpose of the yearlong celebration, according to a Vatican statement, is to make a grateful remembrance of the recent past while embracing the future with hope. Bishop Joe Vásquez discusses the Year of Consecrated Life in the Bishop s Interview on Page 16. He encourages lay people to participate fully in the year. We want to be grateful as a church, and we need to learn how to thank (religious) for their many years of dedicated service in our church, Bishop Vásquez said. He said hundreds of men and women religious have worked in different ways in our Catholic schools, in our parishes, in our hospitals and in service to the poor throughout Central Texas. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., chairman of the U.S. Conference of IN OUR WORLD Resources available for Year of Consecrated Life BY NED ANDREW SOLOMON CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE A Nashville museum s groundbreaking exhibit of Italian art created between 1250 and 1550 explores the signi cant role of the Dominicans and Franciscans in the revival of the arts that began in Italy in the 13th century. Sanctity Pictured: The Art of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Renaissance Italy opened Oct. 31 at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and will be on display until Jan. 25. It is the rst major presentation of Italian Renaissance art in Nashville since 1934, and represents a dream come true for Trinita Kennedy, the center s curator and a Renaissance art historian. This exhibition was work that I had mentioned doing when I was interviewing for the job seven years ago, said Kennedy, a parishioner at St. Philip Parish in Franklin. So this one has been a long time in the making. Visitors to the Frist Center s website, org, can listen online to an audio tour of the exhibit and will nd a Spanish-language video about it and other resources. Kennedy s original idea was to focus on the art of the Franciscans. As she delved deeper into the subject, she was unable to nd much research concerning the art of the Dominicans and the Franciscans during this period. She said both orders created art -- frescoes, illuminated manuscripts, panel paintings, prints and sculptures -- as a vehicle for communicating their respective theologies to the general public. But there were signi cant differences too. And when you have something to compare and contrast then you can see better what is unique about each one, Kennedy told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese. Adding the Dominicans to the exhibit also allowed me to increase the number of potential loans for the exhibit. As it turned out, 28 American museums and libraries, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Pierpont Morgan Library lent work to the exhibition. And, for the rst time in its history, the Frist Center is borrowing works Catholic Bishops Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, announced the Year of Consecrated Life events at an Oct. 1 news conference at the USCCB headquarters in Washington. He said the scheduled events will provide an opportunity, especially for young people, to see how men and women religious live. He also urged heads of religious orders to let his committee know of activities they are planning so they can be publicized. Sister Thompson, council coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, said the purpose of the open house gatherings will be to provide people with an encounter with men and women religious and also an encounter with Christ. Sister Marcia Allen, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kan., and president-elect of Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said another initiative for the upcoming year is called Days with Religious, during which laypeople will from the Vatican Library and Vatican Museums. It s a very big deal for us to be borrowing from the Vatican, and we re thrilled that they said yes, Kennedy said. This is a very rare opportunity to see some works of art from the Vatican that have never traveled to the United States before. Even if somebody hopped on a plane today and went to the Vatican, they d have a very dif cult time gaining entry to the library. You have to prove that you re a scholar and that you have serious research to do, and that you re quali ed to be there. Displayed throughout ve galleries, Sanctity Pictured encompasses more than 60 items, including paintings, manuscript illuminations, bronze medals and printed books. Among the highlights are the Vatican Museums St. Francis With Four Post-Mortem Miracles ; the J. Paul Getty Museum s Abbey Bible and a painting of St. Catherine of Siena Receiving the Stigmata ; and the Allen Memorial Art Museum s Madonna and Child With St. Francis. To enhance the impact of the illuminated choir books, the Frist Center invited two 15 have opportunities to join men and women religious in works of service throughout the summer of She said these opportunities, to be announced locally, will not only give laypeople the chance to work with us side by side but will also enable them to become aware of the charisms of different orders. Sister Allen said she hoped the experience would be a coming together for the sake of the church s presence in the modern world. The third major initiative for the year is a day of prayer scheduled Sept. 13, We will join hands and hearts with you that day, said Father James Green eld, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, who noted that throughout that day people will be invited to join religious men and women for vespers, rosary or holy hours. The priest, who is a member of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales of the Wilmington, Delaware-Philadelphia province, said he hoped the year would not only encourage new vocations but also would allow people to see our commitment with fresh eyes and open their hearts to support us with a renewed energy that stirs us all to embrace our pope s ongoing call for the new evangelization. Although the year s events are intended to give laypeople a deeper understanding of consecrated life, the men and women religious also said they will most likely bene t. Sister Thompson said she hopes women religious experience a renewed joy in their vocation and Sister Allen stressed that by simply explaining their order s charisms to others should give the sisters a deeper understanding and appreciation of their ministries. Whenever you think you are giving something you always end up receiving more, she said. Prayer intentions, prayer cards, a video on consecrated life and other resources are available at org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/yearof-consecrated-life/index.cfm. Franciscans, Dominicans take center stage in exhibit Nashville choirs, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the male a capella group Schola Pacis, which got its start at Christ the King Church, to record 13th-century chants for the exhibition s audio guide. The Dominican sisters were recorded in the chapel at their motherhouse in Nashville; Schola Pacis, at Music Row s Ocean Way Recording Studios. We loved making a musical connection with the art, especially with Nashville being Music City, said Kennedy. Quite a few of the manuscripts in the exhibition are choir books, or pages from choir books. There are even some really wonderful representations of Dominicans and Franciscans singing. Sanctity Pictured is accompanied by a 244-page fully illustrated, hardback catalog, which consists of essays and in-depth entries for each of the featured works. Contributors include Kennedy; Donal Cooper of the University of Cambridge; Holly Flora of Tulane University; Amy Neff of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Janet Robson, an independent scholar. The Frist Center is offering a variety of activities associated with the exhibit, including an all-day symposium Jan. 10 featuring several of the experts whose writings appear in the catalog; weekend children s programs, featuring an original story about St. Francis and the animals; and a showing of the 1950 lm The Flowers of St. Francis lm by Roberto Rosellini, which starred actual Franciscan friars. The Frist is reaching out to Catholic churches in the ve states closest to Tennessee to make people aware of the exhibit and related events. But Kennedy hoped Catholics and non-catholics alike would nd a reason to see the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Everybody loves Francis, and he s de nitely one of the superstars of our show! she said. He has this universal appeal with being the patron saint of animals, and of the environment.... Right across from the Frist Center is a church that hosts the blessing of the animals every year, and it s not even a Catholic church. We do hope that Francis brings people in, but we ve also tried really hard to bring in beautiful examples of Renaissance art, continued Kennedy. So hopefully on that level people can appreciate it.

16 16 GOOD NEWS CATHOLIC SPIRIT Celebrating the gifts of religious men, women B ISHOP JOE S. VÁSQUEZ is the fth bishop of the Austin Diocese. He shepherds more than 530,000 Catholics in 25 Central Texas counties. Editor: Pope Francis has declared a Year of Consecrated Life, which began on Nov. 30 and will run through February Why has the Holy Father decided to put such emphasis on consecrated life? Bishop Vásquez: Pope Francis knows rst-hand the importance of what it means to be a consecrated religious. He is a Jesuit; therefore, he values the wonderful charisms that the Jesuits and all of the religious communities bring to our church and to our world. Our Holy Father wants us to focus on religious and the beauty and gifts they offer the church. Last year, when Pope Francis met with the leaders of religious congregations around the world, he said. The church must be attractive. Wake up the world! It is possible to live differently in this world It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord Religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up. Pope Francis wants religious men and women to wake up the world to the reality of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus came to establish and we desire as we pray in the Our Father, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. The Kingdom of God is described in the preface of the Solemnity of Christ the King as an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. Our religious men and women take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and point us to the reality of the Kingdom of God. Editor: With that in mind tell us what is meant by the term consecrated life? Bishop Vásquez: Consecrated life is a vocation in which a person gives of himself/herselft completely and totally to God and in service of the church. Each religious community has a particular charism or ministry. For instance the Daughters of Charity have been working in hospital ministry in Central Texas for more than 100 years as a way to care for the poor. The Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist have a charism dedicated to educating the young. Each religious community is doing something for the good of the church. From the contemplative orders who are praying for us and for the church at all times to the missionary orders who are bringing Christ to the distant parts of the world, they are all founded in love and service to the church and they point us to a deep reality of God. Editor: Many have said that consecrated life is a thing of the past and that religious life is not as attractive as it once was. What is your response to those critics? Bishop Vásquez: I would say that those people need to learn to appreciate religious life. Granted, there may not be as many religious vocations as there once was and certain religious communities have declined; however, there are many religious communities that are thriving. Consecrated life is not a thing of the past because consecrated life is essential to who we are as a church. Think of the history of the Catholic Church, of the Jesuits who went all over the world, of the Franciscans who came to the Americas to bring the Gospel, and the Dominicans who traveled to many parts of the world to educate and preach the Gospel. Yes, we may have some lows and some moments where there will be certain communities that will ourish and others will not. That is how the Spirit moves and how the Spirit continues to work through the church. We are blessed to have such dedicated men and women religious in our world. Editor: How has the Austin Diocese been blessed by such men and women? Bishop Vásquez: Our diocese has a long history of religious that were present even before the diocese was founded. As I said before, the Daughters of Charity have served Central Texas for more than 100 years. We have also had the Holy Cross Priests, Sisters and Brothers who have worked here for many years. They founded St. Edward s University, our only Catholic university in the Diocese of Austin. They also founded many parishes and schools throughout our diocese. We have been blessed with the service of many Dominican sisters over the years; they have served on the diocesan staff, worked in evangelization ministries and taught in our Catholic schools. Presently, we have several parishes that are served by priestly orders, such as the Paulists, the Conventual and the Third Order Franciscans, the Schoenstatts and the Missionary Society of St. Paul. We have orders of religious who have been in our diocese from its beginning and we have new orders who have just joined us. Nevertheless, I consider them a blessing to the life of the diocese. Hundreds of men and women religious have worked in different ways in our Catholic schools, in our parishes, in our hospitals and in service to the poor throughout Central Texas. My expectation and my hope is that men and women religious will continue to be part of the history of this great diocese for years to come. Editor: How can families and parishes give more attention to those who serve in consecrated life? Bishop Vásquez: One simple way for families to become more familiar and knowledgeable of religious communities is to read about the lives of saints, such as St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Louise de Marillac, and St. Vincent DePaul. Parents can also help their children understand what the saints are about, and help children appreciate their gifts that they brought to the church. Another thing we can do is to get to know religious men and women in our diocese. You can see them in our parishes. Visit with them, pray with them, celebrate Mass with them, or invite them to dinner. There are great opportunities for us to be able to get to know religious. People sometimes feel as though they would interfere in the lives of religious. However, the truth is that religious want to share their lives with us. I think religious men and women would love it if we asked them how they discovered the calling to religious life. There should be nothing complicated about forming a relationship or a friendship with religious men and women. I encourage everyone to initiate a conversation with a religious in this Year of Consecrated Life. Editor: What is your prayer for all those men and women who faithfully serve the church? Bishop Vásquez: First of all, like the Holy Father has said we are grateful to consecrated men and women. We want to be grateful as a church, and we need to learn how to thank them for their many years of dedicated service in our church. Where would our church be if not for these men and women who have given up so much out of love for Christ? My prayer is that consecrated life will experience a renewal and ourish. May all men and women religious continue to be a witness to the Kingdom of God and help us place our hope in God and his Kingdom. Numbers of religious currently serving in the Austin Diocese Congregations of Women Number of Religious AVI Apostles of the Interior Life...3 CDP Congregation of Divine Providence...3 CSC Sisters of the Holy Cross...6 DC Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul...9 DDL Daughters of Divine Love Congregation...2 ESEH Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour...2 FHM Franciscan Sisters Daughters of Mercy...8 FMA Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco...4 IHM Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary...1 MCDP Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence...3 ME Missionary Ecumenical...2 MSC Marianites of Holy Cross...1 MSDP Missionary Servants of Divine Providence...1 OP Dominican Sisters of Houston...3 OP Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist...13 OP Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa...2 OP Hermanas Dominicas Siervas del Senor...2 OSF Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpeutal Help...3 OSF Sisters of St. Francis, Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes...6 PCI Pax Christi Institute...4 SFCC Sisters for Christian Community...2 SJB Sisters of St. John Bosco...1 SJS Sisters of Jesus the Saviour...1 SMIC Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception...2 SNDdeN Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur - Ohio Province...1 SSND School Sisters of Notre Dame...1 SSS Sisters of Sacred Sciences...4 Brothers CSC Congregation of Holy Cross...42 Priests CSC Congregation of Holy Cross...7 CMI Carmelites of Mary Immaculate...1 CSP Paulist Father...7 ICM Incarnatio Consecratio Missio...1 IMS Indian Missionary Society-Ranchi Region...2 ISP Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers...5 MF Missionaries of Faith...3 MSC Missionaries of the Sacred Heart...2 MSP Missionaries of St. Paul...3 OFM Conv. Conventual Franciscan Friars...3 OMI Oblates of Mary Immaculate...2 OP Order of Preachers-Dominicans...2 OSB Missionary Benedictines...3 SDS Society of the Divine Savior...2 SRC Servants of the Risen Christ Monastic Community...1 SS Society of San Sulpice...1 TOR Third Order Regular of Saint Francis...2 Total Religious...179

17 December 2014 GOOD NEWS 17 Faithful citizenship is more than voting BY BARBARA BUDDE COLUMNIST For all who voted thank you. For those who did not vote, you can practice faithful citizenship still. Everyone, please know that our work is just beginning! Our responsibility to act as faithful citizens does not begin or end at the ballot box. Now we have to do the long, hard work of sharing our vision and values with those who were elected. We have a Catholic as governor of the state and that is very good news; however, our new governor will need a great deal of support to bring the values we share as Catholics to our state government. The platforms and membership of both political parties have areas of agreement and disagreement with Catholic teaching. Our role is to continue to make our voices heard to all levels of government speaking out for the poor and vulnerable; for the unborn and those on death row; for the immigrant and every person who is marginalized for any reason to create the change envisioned by the Gospel. Our country and our state face some dif cult and challenging times. We do not yet have a society that respects human life and dignity from conception to death or that supports persons and families throughout their lives. Though the economy is recovering, it seems to be bene tting a few while many continue to struggle. We know that the Gospel calls us to work for the common good over our individual desires and to care especially for the poor and vulnerable among us. Political parties are tallying wins and losses for their side and proclaiming mandates for their priorities. However, we are called to ignore sides and to work for the values that ow from God s vision: protecting human life, promoting family life, pursuing social justice and practicing global solidarity. Here are some things we can begin to do right now: Send a note or to the winning candidates and congratulate them. Explain to them that as a faithful citizen, you hope to communicate your vision and values to them frequently and that you wish to begin a dialogue on the issues facing our state and our nation. Get to know the key staff members of all elected of cials and let them know that you will be communicating with them. Staff members are crucial in brie ng legislators and being able to communicate with staff is often the best way to get your message to the ears of our elected of cials. Plan to participate in the Catholic Advocacy day at the State Capitol on March 24. There are ways you can participate without even leaving home. Sign up with Catholic groups to receive issue brie ngs. Some of the the major groups that work on state and national issues are listed here. For information on Texas legislative matters; sign up for the Texas Catholic Voice run by the Texas Catholic Conference at For information on International issues, sign up for action alerts from Catholic Relief Services and the International Of ce of USCCB at For information on domestic policies regarding health, human services, poverty, housing and others, sign up for Catholic Charities USA, Washington weekly and action alerts at campaign-to-reduce-poverty/. For information on pro-life issues, sign up for the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment at For information from the USCCB department of Justice Peace and Human Development, visit their webpage at about/justice-peace-and-human-development/. Plan to participate in the Catholic Advocacy day at the State Capitol on March 24. There are ways you can participate without even leaving home. Find out how by contacting Barbara Budde at or by calling at (512) Thanks to all who voted, we now ask everyone to follow up with advocacy. There is much left to do and together we can accomplish a great deal. We know we have God s grace with us, please add your time and energy! BARBARA BUDDE is the diocesan director of social concerns. She can be reached at (512) or Your participation in the Catholic Services Appeal helps keep the Catholic Church in Central Texas a welcoming place for those in material and spiritual need through: Please be generous! Make your contribution today at or call (512) Su participación en el Católicos de ayuda a la Iglesia del Centro de Texas a recibir a quienes tienen necesidades materiales y espirituales, por medio de: Por favor sea generoso! Haga hoy mismo su contribución. Llámenos al (512) Image courtesy of Sugarbee Photography A JoyWhich is Shared Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Mk 16:15 Un Gozo compartido 6225 Highway 290 East, Austin, TX Vayan por todo el mundo y prediquen el Evangelio a toda creatura. Mc 16,15 CSA Commitment Weekend November 8-9, 2014 Fin de Semana de Compromiso Noviembre 8-9, 2014

18 18 GOOD NEWS CATHOLIC SPIRIT BERNARDINO BETTO ( ), better known as Pintoricchio, painted the Nativity of Our Lord according to a vision St. Birgitta of Sweden received from the Blessed Mother. The painting is in the Church of St. Mary Major in Spello, Italy. (All photos on Pages are copyright 2000 Elio e Stefano Ciol Casarsa della Delizia (Pordenone)) The Nativity of Christ according to St. Birgitta BY NORMAN FARMER COLUMNIST In Jerusalem on Christmas Night while (then) Lady Birgitta of Sweden ( ) was at prayer in the Church of the Nativity, the Holy Mother of God came to her in a vision to reveal the whole manner of her childbearing and how she gave birth to her glorious Son. Her purpose, Mary added, was to af rm the truth, that however much human beings, following their human perception, try to assert that my Son was born in the common manner, it is nevertheless more true and beyond any doubt, that he was born... just as you now have seen. In 1503, Trolio Baglioni, the Prior of the Church of St. Mary Major in Spello, Italy, commissioned Bernardino Betto ( ), better known as Pintoricchio, to paint the Nativity of Our Lord according to St. Birgitta s revelation in a new chapel dedicated to his family. And today, when the very thought of Christmas evokes widespread secularist hostility and indifference alike, St. Birgitta s vision and Pintoriccio s representation of it inspire a renewed understanding of the Lord s Nativity as the single most consequential prayer-event that the world has ever known. When I was at the manger of the Lord in Bethlehem, St. Birgitta writes, I saw a Virgin, pregnant and most very beautiful, clothed in a white mantle and a nely woven tunic through which from without I could clearly discern her virginal esh. Her womb was full and much swollen, for she was now ready to give birth. With her there was a very digni ed old man; and with them they had both an ox and an ass... And so the Virgin then took the shoes from her feet, put off her white mantle that covered her, removed the veil from her head, and laid these things beside her, remaining in only her tunic, with her most beautiful hair as if of gold spread out upon her shoulder blades... When all these things had thus been prepared, then the Virgin knelt with great reverence, putting herself at prayer; and she kept her back toward the manger and her face lifted to heaven toward the east. And so with raised hands and with her eyes intent on heaven, she was as if suspended in an ecstasy of contemplation, inebriated with divine sweetness. And while she was thus in prayer, I saw the one lying in her womb then move; and then and there, in a moment and the twinkling of an eye, she gave birth to a Son... And so sudden and momentary was that manner of giving birth that I was unable to notice or discern in what member she was giving birth. But yet, at once, I saw that glorious infant lying on the earth, naked and glowing in the greatest of neatness. His esh was most clean of all lth and uncleanness. I saw also the afterbirth lying wrapped very neatly beside him. And then I heard the wonderfully sweet and most dulcet songs of the angels. And the Virgin s womb, which before the birth have been very swollen, at once retracted; and her body looked wonderfully beautiful and delicate... When therefore the virgin felt that she had now given birth, at once, having bowed her head and joined her hands, with great dignity and reverence she adored the boy and said to him: Welcome, my God, my Lord, and my

19 December 2014 Image 1 Son. Then...she arose, holding the boy in her arms, [while] she and Joseph put him in the manger, and on bended knee they continued to adore him with gladness and immense joy. The painting welcomes us to the dawn of a day unlike any other since that rst day when God said, Let there be light (Gen 1:3). Now His only Son (Jn 3:16) has brought a new light into the world the light of the human race... that shines in the darkness (Jn 1:1-5) through an event that speaks visibly with boundless grace unclouded by human perceptions. Above the distant horizon and framed by a soaring cypress tree on the plain and sinister crags in the mountains where armed men prowl, the angel of the Lord races across the dawn sky to proclaim the good news to shepherds keeping the night watch over their ocks (Lk 2:8-9). The vast landscape that unfolds before us is inspired by the traditional Psalm for the Mass on Christmas Night: Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what lls it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them. Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice before the Lord who comes, who comes to govern the earth, to govern the world with justice and the peoples with faithfulness (Ps 96:11-13). So quickly does he come that St. Birgitta cannot discern the manner or member of his delivery. He simply is there, naked and alone upon the cold hard ground and miraculously clean despite the evidence nearby of an actual human birth. The passage from the Book of Wisdom in the Christmas liturgy offers this way to ponder the mystery: For when peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word from heaven s royal throne bounded, a erce warrior, into the doomed land, bearing the sharp sword of your inexorable decree (Wis 18:14-16). A step or two apart, his Holy Mother kneels in the continuation of her prayer, suspended in an ecstasy of contemplation and inebriated with divine sweetness. Already, it seems, the Son of Man truly has nowhere to rest his head (Lk 9:58). And yet, lifting his eyes and raising his hands to his Father in Heaven, he acknowledges the reason for his coming: I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me (Jn 6:38). By thus situating the Nativity in front of a dilapidated temple, now a lowly hay-barn, the artist invites us to contemplate the purpose of the Messiah s coming, which is to replace the worn-out religion of templeworship (Mk 11:1-13:37) with the New Temple, the GOOD NEWS temple of his body (Jn 1:14; 2:21-22), and to bring God s saving grace to all men, Jews and Gentiles alike. A resplendent angel God s messenger and (in appearance) Mary s twin kneels between the child and his Mother (see Image 1 at left). The likeness is so deliberate and precise that once seen it cannot be forgotten or ignored. Malichi s prophecy in the liturgy of Dec. 23 is our key to this startling image of twinship: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me. And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord who you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts (Mal 3:1; Lk 1:17). Since Mary is the temple into which the Word comes (Jn 1:14), the messenger who prepares the way for the Word-becoming- esh is represented by the artist as an angel in the appearance of Mary. A second angel-messenger now directs our contemplative thoughts to the relation between the Nativity and the Eucharist, the mystery of faith, by holding up a gossamerthin cloth emblazoned with a golden cross and crown of thorns. Spread upon the earth beneath the newborn child much as an altarcloth covers the table beneath the Eucharist, this cloth turns our thoughts the grain of wheat in Jesus parable that falls to the ground and dies so that it may produce much fruit (Jn 12:24). In this incomparable mix of reciprocating images we are led to ponder the mystery that this child, naked and glowing in the greatest of neatness and lying on the bare ground is the once and forever embodiment of the mystery of faith. I am the bread of life, Jesus told the crowd (Jn 6:35). Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. That is the central truth of the Nativity. And it is the startling point made by the most inconspicuous detail in the entire painting: the bundle in the right foreground of the painting. At rst glance, it seems that the painter lled some left-over space with a modest still-life: a bundle of clothing with a rustic wine jug leaning against it and all but hidden among the folds a loaf of unbroken bread (see Image 2 at left). A second glance shows this to be the veil and mantle that Mary laid aside before giving birth. And within their folds, wrapped very neatly, are the conclusive proof that Mary so wanted St. Birgitta to see: that though her son was 19 not born in the common manner, he was nonetheless a natural child of the esh. At Emmaus and ever thereafter, he would make himself known in the breaking of the bread (Lk24:35), the bread that truly is the body that once lay upon the earth after he bounded into the world of men at his birth. This is the mystery of faith: the living proof that the Lord s Nativity was, is, and remains the single most consequential prayer-event that the world has ever known. Finally, there is the startling gure of the fourth shepherd obviously a stranger and who, by his archaic clothing seems to have just arrived from a distant world and a time longpast (see Image 3 below). His gift for the Lamb of God is nothing less than the ram caught by its horns in the thicket (Gn 22:1-19) that his father Abraham sacri ced in lieu of his own son a nal mystery to contemplate among the images of a painting we will now be unlikely to forget. Today, when Christmas so widely met with doubt, scorn, and hostility, Pintoricchio s depiction of the Nativity according to the Holy Mother s revelation of that event to St. Birgitta inspires us to pray to Our Father, that through the intercessions of St. Mary and St. Birgitta this Christmas may be held in universal reverence as a season of prayer, renewal, epiphany and peace. Suggested further readings: St. Birgitta entry in Catholic Encyclopedia at and Birgitta of Sweden: Life and Selected Works by Paulist Press (1990). NORMAN FARMER, PH.D, is Professor Emeritus of English and Humanities at the University of Texas. He writes about the relation of sacred art to Catholic prayerlife. Norman and his wife, Cora Jane, are parishioners of St. Austin Parish in Austin. Image 2 Image 3

20 20 GOOD NEWS CATHOLIC SPIRIT St. Stephen: First deacon, rst martyr BY MARY LOU GIBSON COLUMNIST St. Stephen is usually identi ed as a protomartyr because he was the rst Christian to die for the faith (not including the Holy Innocents and John the Baptist). He was a bold preacher who Malcolm Day describes as having a modern, radical outlook in A Treasury of Saints. These were early times for Christians, 34 A.D., and Stephen s preaching about Jesus as the Savior that God had sent made him many enemies among the Jews. Stephen was a leader of the Hellenists, those Jews who lived outside Palestine and spoke Greek. As a group, they urged expansion of the church s mission to the Gentiles. Stephen was one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles to look after the distribution of alms to the faithful and to help in the ministry of preaching. All that we know of his life is in the Acts of the Apostles (6-8). According to Day, it was Stephen who suffered most when the Jewish authorities unleashed the rst wave of persecution against the church. He was accused of preaching blasphemy against Moses and against God and was arrested. When he was brought before the Sanhedrin, editor John Shea writes in Lives of the Saints that he boldly upbraided the chief priests of their hard-hearted resistance to the Holy Ghost and with the murder of the Just One. David Farmer describes the gist of Stephen s defense in the Oxford Dictionary of Saints. He wrote that Stephen told his accusers that God does not depend on the Temple, in so far as like the Mosaic law, it was a temporary institution and destined to be ful lled and superseded by Christ. Stephen said that Christ was the prophet designated by Moses and the Messiah the Jewish race had waited for so long. Then Stephen further attacked his accusers for resisting the Spirit and killing Christ. Paul Burns writes in Butler s Lives of the Saints that the priests were enraged by Stephen s defense and his condemnation of their whole approach to religion. They condemned him to be stoned under the Mosaic law and dragged him outside the walls of Jerusalem. Editor Michael Walsh describes the scene in Butler s Lives of the Saints. When Stephen was led outside, he looked up to the heavens and said: Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Stephen then cried out in a loud voice, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. They stoned him then for blasphemy. Farmer writes that the witnesses placed their clothes at the feet of Saul (later Paul) who consented to his death. He was buried in a tomb and mostly forgotten until the fourth century when St. Gregory of Nyssa composed two homilies to him. Rosemary Guiley writes in the Encyclopedia of Saints that St. Gregory saw Stephen as a key gure in the struggle against demonic forms. Further, St. Gregory preached that Stephen imitated Christ by being compliant and bearing no hatred toward his murderers. Guiley notes that Stephen s supposed tomb was discovered by Lucian in 415. From the fourth century, his feast was kept in the East and West. A church containing his relics was built outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in 439. The ruins of this church were discovered by the Dominicans in 1882 and a new church was erected on the site. St. Stephen is the patron of bricklayers, builders, horses and masons. Why horses? Gerry Bowler explains in The World Encyclopedia of Christmas that his Dec. 26 feast day fell during a time of horse sacri ce in pagan Northern Europe. It was also a time of rest from agricultural work for both man and beast. Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers describe a Polish custom in Saints Preserve Us! when parishioners shower the priest with oats after Mass for the sake of their horses. In England and Ireland, children remember the saint by hurling rocks at wrens. Then he is also remembered in a 19th century Christmas carol by J. M. Neale that begins Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen when the snow lay round about d eep and crisp and even This carol is often sung on St. Stephen s feast day which is Boxing Day in England, a time for seasonal charity. MARY LOU GIBSON is a member of St. Austin Parish in Austin. She welcomes ideas for future columns. Contact her at Texas Pew and Church Renovators, Inc. Pew Re nishing - Reupholstering - Kneelers Ranch Road 2341, Burnet, TX Retreats at Eagle s Wings December 13-14: Advent Family Retreat Presenter: Judy Hoelscher; January 27: The Art of Balance: Presenter: Lori Mulady Burdick January 26: Godstock Registration opens!! Limited dorm sleeping is available for an additional $40 per person (total of $80); this includes Sunday morning hot breakfast. To register visit or call (512) Eagle s Wings Retreat Center is a 501(c)(3) Non-Pro it Corporation Thanks to St. Jude for Favors Received Oh, Holy Saint Jude, Apostle and Martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, near kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke thy special patronage in time of need. To thee I have recourse from the depths of my heart and humbly beg to whom God has given such great power to come to my assistance. Help me in my present and urgent petition, in return I promise to make thy name known and cause thee to be invoked. Saint Jude pray for us and all who invoke they aid. Amen. Recite an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be three times for nine consecutive days. Publication must be promised. This Novena has never failed.

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