PAPAL ADVICE ON PREPARING FOR HOLY WEEK – PROLIFE VIGIL MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF “EVANGELIUM VITAE” – PATRIARCH INVITES PRESIDENT ABBAS TO VATICAN FOR PALESTINIAN CANONIZATIONS

If you want to visit a fascinating website in English about the Holy Land, go to  http://en.abouna.org/en/

Stories about the finding of Jesus’ home in Nazareth, an address to Arab women in the media by Jordanian Princess Basma, and religious tourism in Jordan are just of the few that will hold your interest.  Here are a few of the photos that are on the website today:

Religious tourism is image of Jordanian hospitality – Pope Francis at baptism site in the Jordan, with King Abdullah of Jordan and his wife, Queen Rania:

POPE FRANCIS AT BAPTISMAL SITE

Jordanian women in the Media:

WOMEN IN MEDIA - ME

Jesus’ Home in Nazareth:

JESUS HOME IN NAZARETH

Our Lady of Peace Center, Caritas welcome displaced Christian Iraqis:

OUR LADY OF PEACE . JORDAN

I have a ton of photos from the Peace Center as this was the very first place that Pope Benedict visited on his weeklong trip to the Holy Land in 2009 – and the first place I visited as well!  It was on that trip that I met Fr. Rifat Bader, director in Amman, Jordan, of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media and responsible for the en.abouna.org website. You have seen his photo and heard his voice several times on “Vatican Insider” when our paths have crossed over the years during my trips to the Holy Land.  We also met up in 2010 in Cyprus when Pope Benedict went there on a pilgrimage.

Here is Fr. Bader (R) with Fr. Lombardi of the Holy See Press Office at a briefing for the media in Amman during the 2009 papal trip.

Jordan-Jerusalem May 2009 017

PAPAL ADVICE ON PREPARING FOR HOLY WEEK

(Vatican Radio) – In his homily Tuesday at Mass in the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis invited all Christians to accept God’s love without being critical and making objections.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day that speaks of how the children of Israel complained against God during their journey through the desert when they objected to the “wretched food” provided, the Pope pointed out that God offers us salvation in a thousand different ways but too often we are incapable of accepting his “divine ways.”

He said that in that Gospel passage the Lord sent in punishment saraph serpents which bit the people and many of them died. Thus, Moses prayed for the people and, obeying the Lord’s command, he mounted a bronze serpent on a pole giving salvation to anyone who looked at it after being bitten.

Only Moses’s intercession, and the symbol of the cross on which Christ will die, said the Pope, provides salvation from the poison of the snakes.

Describing the attitude of many Christians today as “spiritually whimsical,” Francis said that we often commit the same kind of error, “becoming sullen and grumbly.”

“How many of us Christians find ourselves ‘poisoned’ by the dissatisfactions of life. Yes: God is good but… We are Christians but… This kind of Christian ends up not opening his heart to God’s salvation, but always posing conditions. ‘Yes, I want to be saved but in this way…’ This attitude poisons the heart.”

Pope Francis said that to not accept God’s gift in the way it is offered is a sin. It poisons our soul, deprives it of joy. But Jesus, he said, solved this problem by climbing Mount Calvary.

“Jesus takes that poison upon himself. This ‘tepidness’ of ‘half-way’ Christians who show enthusiasm at the start of Jesus’ journey only to become dissatisfied on the way. The only way to heal is to look at the Cross, to look at God who takes upon himself our sins: my sin is there.”

How many Christians, concluded Pope Francis, today “die in the desert of their sorrow, grumbling and not accepting God’s way.”

“Let’s look at the serpent, at the poison, … the poison of all the sins in the world, and let us ask for the grace to accept difficult moments. To accept the divine way of salvation, to accept this ‘wretched food’ that the children of Israel lamented… Let’s accept the paths that the Lord leads us on. May this Holy Week that begins on Sunday help us to turn away from the temptation to become ‘Christians yes, but…’.”

PROLIFE VIGIL MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF “EVANGELIUM VITAE”

As I write, a great international celebration is underway in Saint Mary Major Basilica to mark the 20th anniversary of St. John Paul’s great Encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.

The Pontifical Council for the Family, organizer of this event, announced in a communique that Salus Populi Romani, the icon of Mary so dear to Pope Francis and one that he visits prior to and after his international pilgrimages, will be the centerpiece of tonight’s vigil dedicated to life.

This vigil is intended particularly to give thanks for the abundant fruit produced by St. John Paul II during his life, priestly ministry and almost 27-year papacy, in addition to raising awareness of the benefits of prayer for life.

The vigil will have three successive parts: It begins at 5:00 pm with greetings by the principal celebrant, followed by a moment of reflection on some artistic features of the basilica connected with life. At 6:00 pm, an original Rosary will be recited, with focus on the contemplation of Gospel passages related to the theme of life and interspersed with short testimonies and reflections from invited guests. At 7:00 pm, Mass will be presided by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Archbishop Paglia has said that, “the anniversary of the Encyclical and this vigil commemorating it on the eve of the Annunciation are particularly significant, because they highlight the intimate connection between the mystery of life and the experience of the family, composed of suffering and sociability. Defending life means, then, participating in the alliance between God, man and woman.”

The evening will be marked by an international character because this anniversary will also be celebrated in other parts of the world. The Rosary will be recited and dedicated to life in the shrines of Fatima (6:30 pm), Lourdes and Guadalupe. There will also be celebrations in Nazareth.

PATRIARCH INVITES PRESIDENT ABBAS TO VATICAN FOR PALESTINIAN CANONIZATIONS

Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reports from Ramallah that the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to attend the May 17 Mass at the Vatican for the canonization of two Palestinians, Blessed Sister Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Blessed Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified Bawardi.

Jordanian Fr. Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Amman and responsible for the abuna.org website, made the announcement on en.abouna.org. Patriarch Twal is Jordanian-born. “Abouna” means “father” in Arabic.

The invitation was addressed directly by the patriarch to President Abbas during the visit paid by a patriarchal delegation at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Sunday, March 22. During the talks, President Abbas thanked Patriarch Twal and praised the role carried out by the local Church at the service of society and the Palestinian people, especially in the field of education, welfare and health.

Blessed Mariam Bawardi was born in the village of Ibillin in Galilee, and founded the Carmel of Bethlehem. Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was born in Jerusalem and helped to start the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary. Patriarch Twal has just published a pastoral Letter dedicated to the two sisters who will soon be proclaimed saints by the Church.

 

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A PAPAL RAFFLE FOR THE POOR – REPORTS CONTINUE AT COLLOQUIUM ON COMPLEMENTARITY IN MARRIAGE – PATRIARCH EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO VICTIMS OF JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACK – VATICAN TO SPONSOR CONFERENCE ON AUTISM

At a time when I am house bound, Mr. Murphy Law has paid a visit. You’ve heard of Murphy’s law – if something can go wrong, it will! My wash machine finally died and the fridge is on its way! I won’t even mention the smaller “bad  breaks.”

Normally, to purchase a new big ticket item, I would visit several stores that carry such items, price check, ask questions, do some research online and then make a purchase. I did go online, checking on reliable name brands, comnparing prices etc. It is amazing what machines offer today. The washers I saw seemed to do everything but dry and iron the wash load! I just need a few of the basics.

I had received an email a while back from the Vatican announcing that it had added the big ticket items such as refrigerators, washers, etc. to its stock. I called my neighbor Francesco last night (he works at the press office) whom I have known for years, along with his wife, and he said he’d look at some of the items today and call me from the store. He did just that, I listened to his advice and chose a great name brand washer and gave him the money as he came by on his way back to work and voilà, in about an hour, the washer will be delivered and installed!

I cannot remember a moment in my years in Italy whan anything so major has been achieved with such little fuss. Of course I did nothing except study items online – Francesco did the leg work. But it all means so much to me given that I have not been able to go out. I am sure that each of you, my readers, has also been blessed with good neighbors- there are so many ways of being Samaritans!

Now, in the near future, I must get a new fridge (that might be something I’d have to see in person)!

Before a look at a few news items, I want to share the account by ANSA (an Italian news agency) on Pope Francis’ homily at Mass this morning:

Vatican City, November 18 – Anyone can be touched by God and converted – even today’s corrupt and careless leaders, Pope Francis said Tuesday. During Mass at the Vatican’s St. Martha’s guesthouse, where he lives, the Pope described different calls to conversion in the Bible, including the story of Zacchaeus, a corrupt and despised tax collector who served the rich and dominant forces of the day.

“He was just like many leaders we know: corrupt,” Francis said. “Those who, instead of serving the people, exploit the people to serve themselves. There are some like this, in the world,” he added. “That changed after Zacchaeus became intensely curious about Jesus and wanted so much to see him that Zacchaeus made a fool of himself by climbing a tree in an effort to see Christ as He passed by,” said the Pope.

“The Holy Spirit is clever, eh! He sowed the seed of curiosity, and so in order to see him…(Zacchaeus) had to climb a tree to watch a procession. “Just think of it. How ridiculous!” said Francis. And from that moment, Zacchaeus converted to Christianity and was changed, the pope concluded. (http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/)

A PAPAL RAFFLE FOR THE POOR

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is raffling off dozens of gifts he’s been given during his short papacy, including a new Fiat 4×4, some bikes and a fancy coffee maker, with the proceeds going to charity.

The Vatican City State administration this week put up posters around the Vatican advertising the 10 euro ($13) per ticket raffle. Tickets are on sale at the Vatican post office, pharmacy and other venues open to the public. Winners will be announced Jan. 8.

Francis, known for his simplicity, has overhauled the Vatican’s finances to make them more efficient and to devote more money to charity. The raffle is part of that effort, making sure gifts for which Francis has no use don’t just gather dust in storage but are used to help the needy.

REPORTS CONTINUE AT COLLOQUIUM ON COMPLEMENTARITY IN MARRIAGE

The three-day colloquium in Vatican City, organized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Councils for the Family, for Inter-religious Dialogue, and for Promoting Christian Unity, on the subject of the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage continues.  This global, inter-religious meeting featuring representatives from 14 religious traditions and 23 countries, was opened yesterday by Pope Francis.  Participants have been exchanging and sharing experiences from cultural, religious and societal points of view.OComplentarity conference

Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth, Jonathan Sachs spoke Monday and said later in a radio interview that the result of the decline in stable, two parent families causes a rise among young people in eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, suicide attempts and other stress-related symptoms. Three million children are living in an affluent society in this new form of poverty of the single parent family and it’s women who are bearing the brunt because they are the heads of 92% of those families.

He said that one million children will grow up never knowing or meeting their fathers, Rabbi Sachs says, and this is leading to an unprecedented divide between these disadvantaged kids and those growing up in stable, two parent families who will be advantaged in every way. This is a scandal, he says, and it needs someone to stand up for those children who are the victims of this widespread desertion of marriage.

Another speaker Monday was Sister Prudence Allen, a member of the chaplaincy team at Lancaster University in England and a newly appointed member of the International Theological Commission. She addressed the principles of complementarity and the rise of sex and gender ideologies that challenge the traditional vision of marriage and the family.

Summarizing her remarks with Vatican Radio she said that gender ideology was founded by John Money who thought the person was a collection of unconnected parts that from birth to the age of about two could be put together, almost like a Lego set, into different kinds of combinations. But Sister Prudence says this destroyed what we would call the centre of integration where we become an organised, integrated man or woman…..it is important to distinguish between the development of these ideologies, she says, and the reality of sex and gender identity.

Today, speakers included Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor of the Bruderhof, an international communal movement dedicated to a life of simplicity, service, sharing, and nonviolence. In thirty years as a family counselor, Arnold has advised thousands of couples and individuals, including the terminally ill, veterans, prison inmates, and teenagers. He topic was titled, ‘We Need to Become More Courageous Like the Early Church’ and he focussed on “Living Witness for Marriage: What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Helen Alvaré, communications liaison for the conference told Catholic News Agency that the colloquium hopes to offer “a greater understanding” of the relationship between man and woman within marriage. It also aims to provide support for those “who hope for marriage, but sometimes despair, and for people who are struggling with it if they have it.”

All videos shown and speeches delivered at the colloquium can be found here: http://humanum.it/en/videos/

PATRIARCH EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO VICTIMS OF JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACK

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal told Fides news agency in a statement, “I extend my condolences to the relatives of the victims of the assault against the Synagogue of Jerusalem and all the violence that bloody the Holy Land. In our churches, convents and monasteries, we will pray more than ever that the Lord helps us and helps political leaders to take the right steps so that there is peace and security for all, all, all.”

Worshippers in the Jerusalem synagogue included the four rabbis who were killed, three of whom were Americans, according to news reports. Many others were injured.

Patriarch Twal, having just returned from abroad, told of a Jerusalem marked by a strengthening of security measures and roadblocks. He said, “this is a sign that the situation is anything but normal, and control measures cannot solve the seriousness of the problems. It is necessary to go to the roots, remove the causes of despair that breeds violence, stop the endless spiral of revenge. Otherwise we will always live in fear, without freedom or dignity. These are the thoughts that we have in our hearts, as we approach Christmas.”

 VATICAN TO SPONSOR CONFERENCE ON AUTISM

(VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the 29th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, on the theme “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope.”The three-day conference starts November 20.

Presenters included Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery; and Stefano Vicari, head of the Department of Child Neuropsychiatry at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital, Rome.

Archbishop Zimowski explained that the term “autism” was first used by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to describe the introversion of schizophrenic patients. Subsequently, in 1943, his colleague Leo Kanner described the disorder for the first time, affirming that autistic children were born with a congenital incapacity to establish normal contact with other people. It is currently defined as a “neuro-behavioural disturbance (also known as Kanner’s Syndrome) of a pervasive type”, of multifactorial origin. In general, autism spectrum disorders manifest themselves before the age of three, and are life-long. The most recent statistics confirm that around 1% of children worldwide are affected.

“The many difficulties, including those of an ethical, moral and spiritual nature, faced by those with autism spectrum disorders and their carers have led us to choose such an important, difficult and delicate theme for this conference”, the prelate explained. “It will be a special occasion for observing the advances that have been made in research and treatment, as well as legal and political-administrative aspects; three valuable days for listening and exchanging experiences, and learning from the world’s most qualified specialists.”

The Conference will be attended by more than 650 people from 57 different countries, and will include an encounter with the Holy Father during the Wednesday general audience, as well as an exhibition of paintings by the Taiwanese autistic artist Leland Lee, a moment of prayer and testimonies from people affected by autism spectrum disorders, their families, and associations. Various famous Italian singers will offer a musical contribution.