VATICAN INSIDER: JANET MORANA AND CATHOLIC-INSPIRED NGOS – POPE URGES SCRUPULOSITY, ACCURACY IN INVESTIGATING SAINTHOOD

Happy Anniversary to Pope Francis who today marks the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination!

It has been interesting to read the many articles about the appointment by Pope Francis of Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to head the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the almost 400-year old dicastery originally known as Propaganda Fide (Spreading the Faith). A number of sites have suggested that Francis, in naming a charismatic personality, is also indicating one possible successor of his to the papacy.

That interested me and I looked at the history of this Congregation and found that of Tagle’s 40 predecessors as cardinal prefects of Propanganda Fide, only one, Cardinal Mauro Capellari had been elected as Pope, becoming Pope Gregory XVI. Born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari in September 1765, he had adopted the name Mauro upon entering the religious order of the Camaldolese. He was prefect of the Congregation from 1826 to 1831 when he was elected Pope. He was also ruler of the Papal States until his death in 1846.

Just sayin….it doesn’t mean it can’t happen a second time.

VATICAN INSIDER: JANET MORANA AND CATHOLIC-INSPIRED NGOS

My guest this week in the interview segment of Vatican Insider is well-known to many of you – Janet Morana – executive director of Priests for Life and also one of the main hosts of EWTN’s “The Catholic View.” Janet was in Rome for a forum of and by Catholic-inspired NGOs – Non-governmental organizations. Priests for Life is a member of that forum and Janet tells an exciting story about the meeting – so stay tuned for that!

I interviewed Janet on Saturday, December 7 in my office at 5 pm. After that conversation, we went to 6 pm Mass at St. Patrick’s and then to my parish’s annual gala dinner dance for charity. Of necessity, we were both dressed for the gala, not for a radio interview and I announce this at the end of our talk. Here is a photo to prove it!


IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE URGES SCRUPULOSITY, ACCURACY IN INVESTIGATING SAINTHOOD

Vaticannews yesterday reported on the Pope’s address to members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Dicastery. It noted that, “the tasks of what are today called the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for Divine Worship, had been carried out earlier by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, instituted over 4 centuries ago in 1588. Pope Saint Paul VI in 1969, Pope Francis said, split the Congregation into two dicasteries that have “two large areas that are clearly distinct.”

Thus, a 50th anniversary for the Congregation for Causes of Saints, a congregation that inaugurated a new website – http://www.causesanti,va – that very same day.

Francis said that the many beatifications and canonizations that have been celebrated in recent decades mean that saints are models and guides of Christian life, but they are not unreachable human beings. In fact, he said, “they are people who have experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and failures, finding in the Lord the strength to always get up and continue the journey.”

In what appeared to be remarks aimed at the recent postponement by Vatican orders of the scheduled December 21 beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen in the Illinois diocese of Peoria, the Holy Father exhorted the Congregation in its task of carrying out with scrupulosity and accuracy its investigative research into the martyrdom, heroic virtues, the offering of life and miracles of men and women candidates, in order clear the field of any ambiguity or doubt and achieve full certainty in the proclamation of their holiness.

VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP ADAM PARKER EXPLAINS AD LIMINA VISITS – ADVENT SERMON: MARY IN THE ANNUNCIATION: BLESSED IS SHE WHO BELIEVED

VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP ADAM PARKER EXPLAINS AD LIMINA VISITS

Don’t miss Vatican Insider this weekend because Bishop Adam Parker, auxiliary of Baltimore, who is in Rome with U.S. bishops from Regions 4 and 5 of the USCCB for their long overdue ad limina visit, is mt guest this week. Normally these mandatory visits occur every five years but the last time U.S. bishops were here was late 2011 and 2012.

Bishop Parker will explain what the term “ad limina” means, how bishops prepare for their visit, what actually takes place when they are in Rome and what it is like to sit in the presence of the Pope for several hours for a no-holds-barred (Francis’ words) give and take of tough questions, comments, etc.

With Bishop Lori (in back) of Baltimore

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

ADVENT SERMON: MARY IN THE ANNUNCIATION: BLESSED IS SHE WHO BELIEVED

The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, gave his first Advent reflection this morning in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace. His sermon highlighted Mary in the Annunciation, “Blessed is She Who Believed.”

”Every year,” he began, “the liturgy leads us to Christmas with three guides: Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary, the prophet, the precursor, the mother. The first announced the Messiah from afar, the second showed him present in the world, the third bore him in her womb. This Advent I have thought to entrust ourselves entirely to the Mother of Jesus. No one, better than she can prepare us to celebrate the birth of our Redeemer.

“She didn’t celebrate Advent, she lived it in her flesh. Like every mother bearing a child she knows what it means be waiting for somebody and can help us in approaching Christmas with an expectant faith. We shall contemplate the Mother of God in the three moments in which Scripture presents her at the center of the events: the Annunciation, the Visitation and Christmas.”

To read the rest of Father Cantalamessa’s beautiful reflection, click here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-12/raniero-cantalamessa-first-advent-sermon-2019-mary.html

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS VICE POSTULATOR FOR VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN – POPE FRANCIS SUMMARIZES ASIA JOURNEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE – TRANSCIPT OF PAPAL PRESSER ON TOKYO-ROME FLIGHT

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS VICE POSTULATOR FOR VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN

As I mentioned last week in this same spot, you all know by now that the Vatican has approved a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and the diocese of Peoria in Illinois where he is buried announced on Monday, November 18 that Sheen will be beatified in Peoria on December 21st.

Given that great news, last weekend I re-aired Part I of a conversation I had some time ago with Msgr. Richard Soseman, a pastor in the diocese of Peoria and also the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Sheen. This weekend, I will re-air Part II of that conversation.

We talk about Msgr’s priestly life, his time studying in Rome and then working at Congregation for clergy, how his life and priesthood was impacted by Sheen, how he was assigned to the cause for sainthood, the role of a vice postulator and the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification. A second miracle, by the way, is needed for canonization.

So stay tuned after the News and Q&A for Part II of that conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

Here is Part I of my interview with Msgr. Soseman about Venerable Fulton Sheen – soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen – that aired last weekend: https://soundcloud.com/ewtn-radio/vatican-insider-112319-archbishop-fulton-j-sheen

POPE FRANCIS SUMMARIZES ASIA JOURNEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE

Though he had to be exhausted after his long and grueling trip to Asia, Pope Francis presided at the Wednesday general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. As is customary after an apostolic visit, Francis focused the general audience catechesis on his just-completed trip to Thailand and Japan. He began by thanking civil and religious authorities and all those responsible for preparing the visit.

“In Thailand,” said the Pope, “I met with the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch as a sign of esteem and of the importance of promoting respect and cooperation between the religions, and I encouraged the local Church’s support of the sick and poor at Saint Louis hospital. Among the highlights of my visit were the meetings with priests, consecrated men and women, the bishops and finally a group of young people. In the two celebrations of Mass we saw clearly how the Gospel is being inculturated among the Thai people.

“In Japan,” said the Pope, “the motto for my visit was ‘Protect All Life’: a vital theme for a county that experienced the devastation of the atom bomb and more recent disasters. I was able to spend time in prayer at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I met with survivors and their families, and I repeated my appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In my meeting with young people, I encouraged them to face the future without fear by opening their hearts to God’s love in prayer and in service of others. I ask you to join me in entrusting the people of Thailand and Japan to God’s loving providence. May he bless them with prosperity and peace.”

During his audience, the Holy Father announced that on Sunday, December 1, he will go to Greccio in Italy’s Lazio region to pray at the site of the first living nativity scene set up here by St. Francis in 1223. It is said that Francis wished to attract pilgrims to the presepe or nativity scene in Greccio and to discourage them from going to the real first Nativity scene in Bethlehem because of the dangers to traveling pilgrims as the Holy Land was then under control of Muslims. Since 1223 there has been a living nativity scene here every Christmas season.

Francis previously visited Greccio on January 4, 2016.

Addressing Italian pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of Albania and its people who have suffered greatly as a result of an earthquake that struck on Tuesday. The Pope said he was praying for the dead, the injured and their families and was close to all the Albanian people. He also noted that Albania was the first country in Europe that he wanted to visit.

TRANSCIPT OF PAPAL PRESSER ON TOKYO-ROME FLIGHT

Following is the transcript in English of the press conference held aboard the papal flight from Tokyo to Rome yesterday, November 26. As you will read at the end, “This unofficial transcript and translation is a collabortion of journalists at CNA, and its Italian and Spanish language news partners. Every effort is made for accuracy and clarity.”

I will go into detail in a separate post about the Pope’s remarks on Vatican finances, questionable transactions, possible corruption and the use of Peter’s Pence funds for investments such as buying real estate.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-from-japan-36598

VATICAN INSIDER: VICE POSTULATOR SPEAKS ABOUT ARCHBISHOP SHEEN – THE HOLY FATHER IN THAILAND

VATICAN INSIDER: VICE POSTULATOR SPEAKS ABOUT ARCHBISHOP SHEEN

You must all know by now that the Vatican has approved a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen and that on Monday, November 18, the diocese of Peoria in Illinois where he is buried announced that Sheen will be beatified in Peoria on December 21st. Given that great news, this weekend and next in the interview segment of Vatican Insider, we are re-airing a conversation I had with Msgr. Richard Soseman, a pastor in the diocese of Peoria and also the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Sheen.

We talk about Msgr. Soseman’s priestly life, his time studying in Rome and then working at Congregation for clergy, how his life and priesthood was impacted by Sheen, how he was assigned to the cause for sainthood, the role of a vice postulator and the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification. A second miracle, by the way, is needed for canonization. So stay tuned after the news highlights and a Q&A for Part I of that conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

THE HOLY FATHER IN THAILAND

What it means to be a Christian
Pope Francis meets with priests, religious, consecrated men and women, seminarians and catechists in Bangkok, and shares guidelines on how to achieve apostolic fruitfulness, and on what it means to be a Christian. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-in-thailand-what-it-means-to-be-a-christian.html

Pope to Bishops: Holy Spirit is the protagonist of mission
Pope Francis addresses the Bishops of Thailand and of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) at the Shrine of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung in Bangkok. The Pope began his discourse to the Bishops by placing their meeting under the “watchful gaze” of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd, “so that his example may inspire us with a great zeal for evangelization in all the local Churches of Asia.” https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-to-bishops-in-thailand-be-servants-not-managers.html

Encounter and mutual dialogue needed in a challenging world
Pope Francis meets Christian leaders and leaders of other religions at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, telling them co-operation and mutual respect are needed more than ever in a world filled with complex challenges. In 1897, Thailand’s King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) visited Rome and met Pope Leo XIII, the first time that a non-Christian Head of State was received in the Vatican. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-encounter-mutual-dialogue-needed-in-a-challenging-world.html

Pope to youth in Thailand: rooted in faith through friendship with Jesus
Pope Francis celebrates Mass for young people Friday evening in Bangkok’s Cathedral. A strong faith based on a deep friendship with Jesus, he says, will see them through life’s difficulties, as their elders testify. Pope Francis is asking the young people of Thailand to be deeply rooted and anchored in their faith by cultivating a friendship with Jesus, saying it will provide them with the oil needed to light up the path of their life and those of others around them. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-journey-thailand-mass-youth.html

VATICAN INSIDER: FAITH AND REASON AND WESTERN CIVILIZATION – VATICAN STORIES OF THE DAY

VATICAN INSIDER: FAITH AND REASON AND WESTERN CIVILIZATION

My guest this weekend and next in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We spoke when he was in Rome to talk about his latest book, Reason, Faith and the Struggle for Western Civilization.

Sam talks about the genius of Western civilization with its unique synthesis of reason and faith and we learn that that synthesis is under attack from the East by radical Islam (faith without reason) and from within the West itself by aggressive secularism (reason without faith). He writes that the naïve and increasingly common assumption that reason and faith are incompatible is simply at odds with the facts of history. You will not want to miss that conversation!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

VATICAN STORIES OF THE DAY

Pope urges strengthening of penal law against “idolatry of market”
Pope Francis on Friday received in audience in the Vatican participants in the 20th International Congress of Penal Law and examined several critical issues of human justice in the light of the Christian vision of justice. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-penal-law-justice-environment.html

Pope receives Grand Imam of Al-Azhar
Pope Francis on Friday received in the Vatican the Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb of Al-Azhar of Egypt and his retinue. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-grand-imam-alazhar-audience.html

Pope sends video message to Thailand ahead of his Apostolic Journey
Pope Francis sends his greetings to the people of Thailand ahead of his visit to the country from the 20th to the 23rd of November. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-video-message-thailiand-apostolic-journey.html

Pope to pilgrims in Lourdes for World Day of Poor: ‘God hears your prayers’
Pope Francis sends a video-message to participants of a 4-day gathering in Lourdes responding to his call for a ‘Poor Church for the Poor’. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-world-day-of-poor-2019.html

Pope says Havana founded on roots of faith, hope and charity
Pope Francis sends a video message on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the city of San Cristóbal de La Habana, from whose name Havana is derived.https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-says-havana-founded-on-roots-of-faith-hope-and-charity.html

World Day of the Poor: Clinic open for Rome’s poor
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization releases a press statement ahead of the 3rd World Day of the Poor, marked on the 17th of November. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-11/pope-francis-world-day-of-the-poor-clinic.html

VATICAN INSIDER: FAITH AND REASON AND WESTERN CIVILIZATION – POPE TO SALVATION ARMY: HUMBLE SERVICE SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS – BIDEN, COMMUNION AND POPE FRANCIS

I posted this link on my Facebook page today and now want to share it with my blog readers – a great story from Thailand about the upcoming papal visit: https://www.yahoo.com/news/catholic-nuns-working-non-stop-110000682.html

VATICAN INSIDER: FAITH AND REASON AND WESTERN CIVILIZATION

My guest this weekend and next in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We spoke when he was in Rome to talk about his latest book, Reason, Faith and the Struggle for Western Civilization. (Acton photos)

Sam talks about the genius of Western civilization with its unique synthesis of reason and faith and we learn that that synthesis is under attack from the East by radical Islam (faith without reason) and from within the West itself by aggressive secularism (reason without faith). He writes that the naïve and increasingly common assumption that reason and faith are incompatible is simply at odds with the facts of history. You will not want to miss that conversation!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE TO SALVATION ARMY: HUMBLE SERVICE SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS

Pope Francis met with a delegation from the Salvation Army on Friday, and said that holiness is best shown in concrete acts of goodness and solidarity.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Salvation Army is both a Protestant Christian church and an international charitable organization, whose membership numbers over 1.7 million. Known as Salvationists, members seek to bring salvation and humanitarian relief to people in need.

In his address to the delegation on Friday, Pope Francis expressed his appreciation for “the witness [Salvationists] give to the primacy of discipleship and service to the poor.”
He added that it makes them “a credible sign of evangelical love”.

Humble service
The Pope told the delegation about the first lesson he ever received in ecumenism. When he was four years old, he met several members of the Salvation Army while with his grandmother. “Their example of humble service to the least of our brothers and sisters spoke louder than any words,” he said.

Pope Francis also recalled what the previous director told him when they met in 2014: “Holiness transcends denominational boundaries.” Francis said, “the holiness that shows itself in concrete acts of goodness, solidarity, and healing speaks to the heart and testifies to the authenticity of our discipleship.”

Catholics and Salvationists, said the Pope, can work well together on this basis, cooperating in “a spirit of mutual respect, even in leading a holy life.”

Gratuitous love
Pope Francis said gratuitous love shown to others in acts of service both attracts and convinces. Young people, he noted, need that type of Christian witness, since they often lack positive examples in daily life.

“In a world where selfishness and divisions abound, the noble fragrance of genuine self-giving love can offer a much-needed antidote, and open minds and hearts to the transcendent meaning of our existence,” he said.

Service and solidarity
Finally, the Pope thanked Salvationists for caring for the homeless and marginalized in Rome, as well as for their efforts to fight human trafficking. “Let us remember one another in our prayers and continue to work together to spread God’s love through works of service and solidarity.”

BIDEN, COMMUNION AND POPE FRANCIS

You may recall reading on November 1, 2019 on LifeSiteNews and many other media outlets, secular and not , that “Pro-abortion former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden has commented on a priest recently upholding Catholic teaching by denying him Holy Communion, saying, “It’s not a position that I’ve found anywhere else, including from the Holy Father, who gives me Communion.”

How come no one has followed up by asking Biden to show the world a photo of Pope Francis giving him communion?

I have obviously not been to every Mass that Pope Francis has presided at but when I have been present, he has never given out communion to the faithful. He might give communion to those priests, deacons or acolytes who assist him during Mass, but that is one of the exceptions. He has given communion to First Communicants, that is, both young children going for the first time – last May 6 in Bulgaria, the Pope gave First Holy Communion to 245 children – and adults received into the Church at RCIA at the Easter vigil.

You might want to read this piece by Sandro Magister: Why Pope Francis Doesn’t ive Communion: http://chiesa.espressosrepubblica.it/articolo/1350515bdc4.html?eng=y

VATICAN INSIDER FOCUS ON THE CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY – HOLINESS IS “THE FRUIT OF GOD’S GRACE AND OUR RESPONSE TO IT” – LIFE IN ITALY: THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

VATICAN INSIDER FOCUS ON THE CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY

My guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Insider is Patrick Reilly, president and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society. We spoke about the Society when he was in Rome for the October 13 canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the namesake of this organization whose mission, as its website says, is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education. We talk about the work and outreach and challenges of the Society, including the many court challenges to faith-based institutions in U.S society.

This week is Part II of our conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

HOLINESS IS “THE FRUIT OF GOD’S GRACE AND OUR RESPONSE TO IT”

Today, November 1 is the Solemnity of All Saints, and, as is traditional on this day, the Holy Father recited the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. All Saints is a holy day and a holiday in Vatican City and in Italy, and throngs of people travel this weekend.

The Holy Father said, “the Saints are not some distant, unreachable human beings, rather they walked the same difficult path of life along which we travel, with all its successes and failures.” Holiness, he said, cannot be achieved through our own strength, rather it is “the fruit of God’s grace and our free response to it,” making it both a gift and a call.

“Holiness is the path of fullness that every Christian is called to follow in faith, proceeding towards the final goal: definitive communion with God in eternal life.” It requires us to embrace God’s gift responsibly and to “take on a serious and daily commitment to sanctification in all the conditions, duties, and circumstances of our lives, seeking to live everything with love, with charity.”

The Saints who now stand before the throne of God, said Francis, “admitted during life that they needed the divine light and so abandoned themselves to it in trust. …They constitute the ‘Holy City’ to which we look with hope as our definitive goal, as we make our way through this ‘earthly city, fatigued by the bitterness of the journey.” So, he said, “we are encouraged to imitate them.”

After the Marian prayer, Pope Francis said that tomorrow, November 2, feast of All Souls, he will celebrate the Eucharist in the Catacombs of Priscilla, one of the burial places of the first Christians of Rome. He said: “These days, when, unfortunately, there are also messages of negative culture about death and the dead, I invite you not to neglect, if possible, a visit to and a prayer at a cemetery.”

LIFE IN ITALY: THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

As I write this column – my traditional column for the November 1 Solemnity of All Saints – there’s been an almost unreal silence outside today, unreal for Rome whose chaotic traffic and honking horns, if nothing else, can cause untenable noise pollution. To enjoy silence, most Romans look forward to Sundays, holidays and the months of July and August when people go away on vacation.

It is so quiet because today is a big holiday in Italy and Vatican City – November 1, the feast of All Saints. The Vatican also observes November 2 – All Souls Day – as a day off, a day that used to be an Italian holiday but has been removed from the calendar of public holidays. Not that that makes much difference to Italians who use any excuse to create what they call a “ponte,” a bridge to an extra long weekend. Thus, given that today, Friday, is a holiday, a number of Italians will take the day off and have a three -day weekend. They might have even left their home town last night!

Today at noon, as he usually does on Sundays and solemnities, Pope Francis recited the Angelus with the faithful and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square. I posted those reflections elsewhere.

It is tradition at the Vatican for Popes on November 1 to celebrate Holy Mass for the Solemnity of All Saints at a Rome cemetery, for many years Campo Verano, and, on the following day, November 2, to lead a prayer service in the Vatican Grottoes for all deceased Popes.

Again this year, however, Francis has changed things. In fact, after today’s Marian prayer, Pope Francis said that tomorrow, November 2, feast of All Souls, he will celebrate the Eucharist in the Catacombs of Priscilla, one of the burial places of the first Christians of Rome. He said: “These days, when, unfortunately, there are also messages of negative culture about death and the dead, I invite you not to neglect, if possible, a visit to and a prayer at a cemetery.”

November 1 – the feast of All Saints – is such an important day for Italians that newspapers – and now social media and websites – publish special inserts on how to get to a city’s cemeteries, where to park cars, what shuttle buses are available within cemeteries, etc. Cemetery hours – usually longer in the October 29 to November 5 period – are posted, as are the hours and routes of the “C” busses (“C” for cimitero or cemetery).

In Rome there are 12 cemeteries and each one has special rules and regulations and opening hours. The larger ones will also have free shuttles buses (because no cars will be allowed) to take people to the graves of loved ones. In Rome’s largest cemetery, Verano, 16 stops have been programmed for these buses.

One million people are expected to visit Rome’s cemeteries in the weeklong period dedicated to the deceased, although gray, rainy weather may deter a few. The city always make a concerted effort at this time of year to clean cemeteries of trash, to repair walkways and even headstones and to do some serious gardening. Visitors too will clean tombs, bring fresh flowers and entire families will meet to mourn their dearly departed as well as to celebrate their lives. And then family members will usually all go out for lunch or dinner, sometimes even taking a picnic lunch along (though not for eating in the cemeteries – even though that is what the very first Christians did when they gathered at burial grounds or in the catacombs).

One Rome paper a few years back even published a survey on the cost of funerals, saying “there is some meager consolation for those in mourning in the capital of Rome because a funeral there costs the least” of all cities questioned for the survey. They run about $2,750 in Rome, and, on the high end, cost $4,560 in Milan with Turin and Genoa somewhere in between. These prices include a walnut coffin with zinc interior, flowers, the burial and documents. However, says the paper, the best bargain is still a funeral paid for by the city, with Turin being the best buy at 660 Euro or $844, and Genoa being the costliest at 2,000 Euro or $2,560.

I’m guessing prices have changed significantly since those numbers were published.

Prices for flowers greatly increase at this time of year and I learned a hard lesson my first year in Rome

It was the very end of October and I went to a private clinic to visit a friend who had just had serious surgery. I wanted to bring Lina an impressive bouquet of flowers to cheer her up but my budget did not allow for “impressive.” So I did the best I could. I bought about 8 or 10 chrysanthemums – being bigger flowers, they seemed more impressive as a bouquet. Surely just the thing to bring a smile to Lina’s face!

Well, I knew the minute I walked into the room that something was wrong. I saw a strange look on Lina’s face (and also on the face of a cousin visiting her, a priest), but never for a minute did I associate it with the flowers. We chatted and visited and faces seemed to brighten up, so I dismissed the first impression I had received that something was wrong.

Only much later did I learn that chrysanthemums are viewed by Italians as the flower of the dead and are the flowers that most people bring to place on the graves of their loved ones! Fortunately for me, Lina and Fr. John were wonderful, understanding friends who gently, some time later, told me what bringing chrysanthemums to someone in the hospital just days before the feast of All Saints is just not done! (Actually they seem to frown on flowers in hospitals at other times of the year as well.)

Like other hard-learned lessons in Italy, this was one mistake I never repeated.
Today, but especially tomorrow, Italians visit cemeteries in huge numbers, cleaning the graves of their loved ones and bringing votive candles as well as armloads of flowers, especially chrysanthemums. The price of flowers goes up steeply twice a year – on November 1 and 2 and on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. On that day in Rome people bring flowers to the Piazza di Spagna, Rome’s celebrated Spanish Steps, placing them at the base of the column with the statue of Mary or on a table near the column. The loose flowers are then woven by priests and brothers into large bouquets or wreaths and placed near or on the column.