NEVER A DULL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CORRESPONDENT…. – POPE APPROVES DECREES OF MIRACLES, MARTYRDOM, AND HEROIC VIRTUES – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR QUAKE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA – GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER, SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND “24 HOURS FOR THE LORD”

NEVER A DULL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CORRESPONDENT….

What an interesting workday this has been! I did the commentary this morning for EWTN’s television coverage of the weekly papal general audience in the Paul VI Hall, and enjoyed being part of, so to speak, all the pre-catechesis moments when the Holy Father arrives, walks down the central aisle of the hall, meets the faithful, kisses babies, receives gifts from well-wishers including lovely drawings by children and a half dozen red roses from one group or family, and so on. There are also some lovely moments after the catechesis as well (today there large numbers of babies and toddlers!) but, unfortunately these less formal moments are generally not seen on TV. I followed them on the closed circuit TV in the studio and they were delightful.

Pilgrims gathered in both the Paul VI Hall and St. Peter’s Basilica because the weather has been so bad – rain non-stop for at least a week! – that it was deemed prudent to have the audience inside. There was indeed sun for a few hours but the blue sky quickly turned to gray and we’ve had rain all afternoon.

The commentary is done from a small radio studio where there is a flat screen TV and all the various electronics that link us to EWTN in Birmingham which, in turn, is linked to Vatican Television in Rome! There’s also a computer linked to a printer but I used my iPad and translated the papal remarks from the official text that arrived via email. Until the papal speech or homily arrives, the heart beats a bit faster because simultaneously translating what the Pope says, rather than having the official text, is not an easy chore.

There’s always a lot more than meets the eye when you turn on a radio or television to listen to or watch a program. If things go smoothly and seem well choreographed, it’s because a team of talented people – like the EWTN engineers and technical people – put their skills together to create a seamless tapestry. Kudos to the behind-the-scenes people!

As today is Wednesday I also have my usual weekly appointment with Teresa Tomeo on Catholic Connection that airs on Ave Maria and EWTN radio at 9:40 am ET (3:40 pm in Rome).

Today we spoke about the sudden and tragic death in Rome of the archbishop of Ho Chin Minh Ville (Saigon), Vietnam. The Vietnamese bishops have been in Rome this week on the mandatory “ad limina” (to the threshold) visit all bishops must pay to Rome – usually every five years. During these visits, they meet with the Pope and visit various offices of the Roman Curia.

Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc had a stroke yesterday morning while concelebrating Mass in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls. He had met Pope Francis the day before with the other Vietnamese bishops.

Originally from Da Lat, he was consecrated bishop of My Tho by John Paul II. Pope Francis appointed him coadjutor archbishop of Ho Chi Minh in 2013. He served as the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City from 2014 to 2018 and was president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam from 2013 to 2016. Born in November 1944, he was 73.

Teresa and I also spoke about the upcoming canonizations of Blessed Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador and three others (see story below). The only date that has been announced is the canonization Mass for Paul VI – that will be in October at the end of the Synod of Bishops. St. John XXIII was the first Pope I ever saw and Blessed Paul Vi was the first Pope I ever spoke to (I do not have a digital copy of the photos I took that day at Castelgandolfo – will have to remedy that).

Teresa spoke of the long and complex process for the creation – the recognition, really! – of Blesseds and Saints. I told her I was now a formal part of that process because several months ago I became an official member of the Brother Joseph Dutton Guild in the diocese of Honolulu. We are in the very initial, exploratory stages of his cause: these are the stages where you discover what the Vatican requires for a process to begin. What information do they need? How do we prove heroic virtues? What has the person said or written? All their works – their entire life – have to be studied. How is a postulator for the cause chosen? What are their attributes? This is just the nutshell version of the work laid out ahead of the Guild!

And the nutshell version of ‘Who is Joseph Dutton?” He worked alongside St. Damien and St. Marianne of Molokai for 44 years, spending the final 44 years of his long life in service to these two saints and to the patients of leprosy whom they served so lovingly and faithfully on the peninsular of Kalaupapa – Damien for 16 years and Mother Marianne for 30.

Longtime readers of this column know of my passion for Hawaii, for these saints and for this future third saint of Molokai. I first went to Hawaii and to Kalaupapa in 2008. I was a passionate newcomer to the story of Fr. Damien who was canonized in Rome in October 2009. During the 2008 visit I also learned of Mother Marianne – and just a bit about Brother Joseph – and I followed their stories right through my 2012 return visit to Hawaii and Marianne’s canonization in 2012.

I have been back to Hawaii every year since, in fact, twice last year as I was there in September on vacation (and participated in my first meeting with the Guild!) and returned to give a speech at the Hawaii Convention Center for the First Saints Damien and Marianne Conference.

At some point in the future I will bring you Brother Joseph Dutton’s story. By the way, he was not a religious brother: It was Fr. Damien who told him one day, “You are like a brother to everyone here, and that is what I will call you.”
And now, some news from the Vatican:

POPE APPROVES DECREES OF MIRACLES, MARTYRDOM, AND HEROIC VIRTUES

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints published the following decrees that Pope Francis authorized in a meeting with Cardinal Angel Amato, prefect of the congregation.

The five Blesseds named below will become Saints in future canonizations. Blessed Paul VI’s canonization has been announced for the end of the October Synod of Bishops in Rome. October is a traditional month for canonizations, and such ceremonies often also take place in the spring. (vaticannews.va photo)

– a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini), Supreme Pontiff; born in Concesio (Italy) on 26 September 1897 and died inCastel Gandolfo (Italy) on 6 August 1978;

— a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Archbishop of San Salvador (El Salvador), Martyr; born in Ciudad Barrios (El Salvador) on 15 August 1917 and murdered in San Salvador (El Salvador) on 24 March 1980;

— a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Francesco Spinelli, Diocesan priest, Founder of the Institute of the Sister Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; born in Milan (Italy) on 14 April 1853 and died at Rivolta d’Adda (Italy) on 6 February 1913;

— a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Vincenzo Romani, Diocesan priest; born at Torre del Greco (Italy) on 3 June 1751 and died there on 20 December 1831;

– a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Maria Catherine Kasper, Foundress of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; born on 26 May 1820 in Dernbach (Germany) and died there on 2 February 1898;

Other decrees regarded miracles, heroic virtues and martyrdom for 8 Servants of God: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2018-03/pope-francis-paul-vi-saints-miracle-martyrdom-heroic-virtues.html

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR QUAKE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the victims of the earthquake in Papua New Guinea through Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.

It was with great sadness that His Holiness Pope Francis learned of the tragic loss of life following the recent earthquake in Papua New Guinea. Commending the souls of the deceased to the mercy of Almighty God, he sends his heartfelt condolences to their families, and he assures all those affected by this disaster of his closeness in prayer. Upon all those who mourn at this difficult time, and upon the emergency personnel involved in the important relief efforts, Pope Francis willingly invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation. Cardinal Pietro Parolin

UNICEF reports that in Papua New Guinea approximately 270,000 persons need humanitarian assistance in the wake of last week’s earthquake. This number includes more than 130 thousand children.

Since the 7.5 magnitude quake, there have been about 100 aftershocks as well as another 6.0 magnitude earthquake on Sunday. An estimated 65 percent of Papua New Guinea’s health facilities remain closed and schools may remain closed for the duration of the school year due to the damage sustained. This was a week after a larger quake flattened villages and killed at least 55 people.

GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER, SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND “24 HOURS FOR THE LORD”

Pope Francis during his general audience on Wednesday continued his catechesis on the Mass, focusing his attention on the Eucharistic Prayer. Speaking off the cuff, he said, “one does not pay to go to Mass,” as “the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ which is free. If you want you can make an offering, but you do not pay.”

Pope Francis also said there were three approaches that should never be lacking in disciples of Jesus: the first is, learn how to give thanks, the second, to make our life a gift of love, and third, to build concrete communion in the Church and with everyone.

Speaking to the pilgrims in the Paul VI hall the Pontiff spoke in particular about the Eucharistic Prayer noting that “this central prayer of the Mass educates us, little by little, to make a “Eucharist” of our whole life, that is an action of grace ”

The Pope went on to say that, “in offering the bread and wine which become the body and blood of Christ, we unite ourselves to his sacrifice of reconciliation on the cross.”

As the memorial of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, the Pope added, “the Eucharistic prayer asks that we may be drawn, in the Holy Spirit, into communion with one another in the mystical Body of Christ, and united to the Son in his eternal sacrifice of praise and intercession before the Father.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that at every Mass, the faithful would “enter more fully into this “mystery of faith”, which brings the forgiveness of sin, builds up the Church in unity and prays for the reconciliation and peace of our entire human family.”

At the end of his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis said sport can overcome disabilities and build bridges between peoples in his greetings to the International Paralympic Committee and all the athletes taking part in the winter games in the South Korean city of PyeongChang.

Noting that the city recently hosted the Olympic games, the Pope said that major sporting event showed how “sport can build bridges between countries in conflict, giving a valid contribution and perspectives for peace among peoples”.

He said the Paralympic Games are a further sign of the way in which sport can help overcome disabilities. He described the athletes are “an example for everyone of courage, tenacity and perseverance”, refusing to let themselves be held back by their limitations. Sport, the Pope said, is a school of inclusion, of inspiration for our personal lives and of commitment to transform our societies.

Pope Francis concluded with a greeting to the Paralympic Committee, to all the competing athletes and to all the Korean people. He assured them of his prayers that this event may encourage days of peace and joy for everyone. The Paralympic games are due to take place in PyeongChang from March 9th to 18th.

The Holy Father also noted that this Friday, March 9, in St Peter’s Basilica he will celebrate a penitential Lenten liturgy known as ‘24 hours for the Lord’. He said he hoped that churches would remain open in order to welcome all those wishing to prepare for Easter by celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation and finding God’s mercy in this way.
(Vatiannews.va)

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VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO EXPERT IN MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES – SPANISH ROYALS TO INAUGURATE NEW LIGHTING FOR ST. MARY MAJOR – THE 3 PROPHESIES OF POPE PAUL VI THAT ARE BEING FULFILLED IN OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW

FYI: See Press Office Director Greg Burke said in a statement today, January 12, that Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop Major of Kyiv-Halyč of the Ukrainians and, on Sunday, January 28 at 4 pm, will visit the Basilica of Santa Sofia in Rome and meet with the Ukrainian Greek/Catholic community.

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO EXPERT IN MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

I welcome you to Vatican Insider on a weekend –specifically on the second Sunday after the Epiphany – when the Church celebrates the World day of Migrants and Refugees. Because of this world day and the growing numbers of both migrants and refugees throughout the world and related issues for governments, you will absolutely want to tune in to Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of ICMI – International Catholic Migration Commission.

He is an affable, capable, multi-lingual trained social worker with a broad expertise in migration and refugee services, child protection, social services, human rights, HIV/AIDS and global health. From 2005 to 2016, he served as Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis in Geneva and as Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS. As we spoke in Rome, I learned so much about the Church’s work in this area and it was absolutely fascinating. This is a front page issue today so do not miss our conversation!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

SPANISH ROYALS TO INAUGURATE NEW LIGHTING FOR ST. MARY MAJOR

Friday, January 19, at 5 pm, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia will inaugurate the new illumination of Saint Mary Major Basilica. The LED illumination links advanced technology with respect for the environment and will allow an 80% savings, according to a Vatican communiqué.

Last April 19, an agreement to collaborate on the joint development of the lighting project was signed between the basilica, the archpriest of the papal basilica, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the governorate of Vatican City State and the Fundacion Endesa within the framework of its program of artistic illumination to preserve cultural and artistic patrimony.

Work began last June under the direction of the technical services of Vatican City State.

As I noted in my book, “A Holy Year in Rome,” all who visit this papal basilica
are drawn to the arrestingly beautiful ceiling, commissioned by Pope Alexander VI for the Holy Year 1500 and designed by Giuliano da Sangallo. The 105 wood-carved panels, each a meter square, were placed over the original trussed ceiling and then gilded with some of the gold brought from the newly discovered Americas by Columbus and given to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The Peruvian gold was then donated by the Spanish Royals to Pope Alexander VI, also a Spaniard. This added magnificence induced Romans to call this “the golden basilica.”

The basilica has been under the patronage of Spanish kings since that time and even today the Spanish monarch is a canon of St. Mary Major. In theory the king should visit the basilica once a year. If he cannot do so, he names a delegate, usually the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See. Once every year there is a Mass in the basilica for Spain and the Spanish people.

Twenty-four canons, named by the Holy Father, are responsible for the basilica – for its administration, repairs and the day-to-day tasks of overseeing visitors and preparing liturgical services.

I took these photos of the ceiling several years ago during the legendary August 5 “snowfall.”

Here’s the story:

The year was 358 A.D. John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and requested that they build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night.

John and his wife went to tell Pope Liberius of their dream and to their amazement discovered that the pontiff had had the same dream. The next morning, August 5, the highest of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline, was covered in snow, as witnessed by John, his wife, the Pope and his entourage, and a throng of Romans. Pope Liberius took a stick and traced the sign of the future basilica in the snow, a basilica which would be forever known as Our Lady of the Snows, in addition to the name it bears today, St. Mary Major, the greatest – and the oldest – Marian church.

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5. Each year, during a solemn high Mass, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released from the basilica’s rooftop, both inside and outside, showering the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

THE 3 PROPHESIES OF POPE PAUL VI THAT ARE BEING FULFILLED IN OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW

(ChurchPOP) – This year, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s traditional teaching against the use of contraception.

For Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Paul VI was much more than just a great moral teacher – he was a prophet.

“That section of the encyclical,” Bp. Barron explains, referring to section 17 in which Paul VI predicts the social consequences of contraception, “I will confess to you, jumped out at me as I reread it, because I thought ‘Wow, 1968, but this man was looking very clearly into our time.’”

He then goes through Paul IV’s three big predictions about what a world that widely accepts contraception would look like: (1) more marital infidelity and lower moral standards for young people, (2) men feeling more free to objectify women, and (3) governments imposing contraception on their citizens.

Today, 50 years since the sexual revolution, it’s clear all of these have come true: sexual morality and marriage has collapsed, women are widely viewed as mere sex objects by men, and the Little Sisters of the Poor and others in the US have suffered from the HHS mandate, not to mention the much more severe population control policies in places like China.

Looking at our world today, it’s amazing how accurate Paul VI was. Which makes it all the more tragic that so many people, both within and without the Church, haven’t more closely heeded his warnings.

Click here to view Bishop Barron’s video at end of article: Https://churchpop.com/2018/01/11/bishop-barron-explains-why-pope-paul-vi-was-a-prophet-with-humanae-vitae/

A WEEKEND IN ROME: THE BIRTH OF A BASILICA, THE TRANSFIGURATION – PAPAL MESSAGE FOR VICTIMS OF ATTACK ON CHURCH IN NIGERIA

Pope Francis tweeted today: Forgiveness sets our hearts free and allows us to start anew.  Forgiveness gives hope. Without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

I read that tweet and thought about forgiveness just seconds after seeing the story from Nigeria (see below), and I asked myself: if I had been in that church, could I have forgiven those who comitted this barbaric action? I am not totally sure of the answer but I feel it could be ‘no’.  This is why I admire beyond telling those saints who knew how to ask for and offer forgiveness, even whem seemingly impossible, and therefore lived –heroic virtues!  And I am sure there are many saints-in waiting who live heroic virtues today.

A WEEKEND IN ROME: THE BIRTH OF A BASILICA, THE TRANSFIGURATION

August 5 is the annual feast of Our Lady of the Snows and a great time, notwithstanding torrid temperatures,to experience this feast day if you are in Rome.

Here’s the story in a nutshell:  The year was 358 A.D.   John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and asked them to build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night. John and his wife went to tell their friend Pope Liberius of their dream and, to their astonishment, discovered he had had the same dream

The next morning, August 5, Pope Liberius, John and his wife, joined a massive crowd that had gathered at the site of the snowfall on one of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline. And so, fulfilling Mary’s wish, Our Lady of the Snows was built – a basilica you know as St. Mary Major!

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5 when, during an afternoon Mass, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released from the basilica’s rooftop, both inside and outside, showering the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

The ceiling panel where the flower petals are released is at the top, almost center, of the screen, as the video starts: https://youtu.be/WMY9Xj0O91

Sunday, August 6 was the feast of the Transfiguration and also marked the 39th anniversary of the death of Blessed Paul VI. Pope Francis commemorated his predecessor by going to his tomb in the grotto area of St. Peter’s Basilica. Bishop Semeraro of Albano celebrated Mass for this occasion. The papal palace of Castelgandolfo is in this diocese and that is where Paul VI died.

At the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis said “The ascension of the disciples to Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things, to make our way up a path to contemplate Jesus.” He noted how, “the event of the Lord’s Transfiguration, which the Church celebrates today, “invites us to meet Jesus and to be at the service of our brothers, ,,, It suggests a way to live the holidays because rest and detachment from everyday occupations, can re-energize both body and spirit, deepening the spiritual path.”

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR VICTIMS OF ATTACK ON CHURCH IN NIGERIA

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday sent a message of condolences following an attack at a Church in southeastern Nigeria. At least 11 people were killed and 18 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers who had gathered early on Sunday at St Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha. (photo news.va)

In the message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope says he is “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury”. He extends his “heartfelt condolences” to the local bishop and to “all the faithful of the diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.”

Police said they believe the attack may have been linked to drug trafficking and was carried out following a feud between local residents and member of the community living outside Nigeria.

Please see below the full text of the message from Pope Francis to the bishop of the diocese of Nnewi in Nigeria

The Right Reverend Hilary Paul Odili Okeke

Bishop of Nnewi

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack in Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, His Holiness Pope Francis extends heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy. Upon the entire Diocese, His Holiness willingly invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin