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Pope Francis: At Mass we participate in Calvary

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2017 / 03:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said that when we attend Mass, it is as if we are approaching Jesus on the Cross at Calvary, and that at every Eucharist we not only experience Christ’s redemption, but we participate in it.

“When we go to Mass, it is as if we go to Calvary, the same,” Pope Francis said Nov. 22. “This is the Mass: to enter into this Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus.”

When we enter the church for Mass, we should think to ourselves: “I enter Calvary, where Jesus gives his life for me,” the Pope continued, saying he is sure we would respond to this “in silence, in weeping,” and also with joy, because we have been saved from death and sin.

At the general audience, Pope Francis continued his new catechesis on the Mass and the Eucharist by reflecting on what he said is the essential element of every Mass – that it is a "memorial of the Paschal Mystery of Christ."

Imagine that you are actually at Calvary, he continued. In that moment, you would look up and know that the man upon the cross is Jesus. Would you allow yourself to make chit-chat or take pictures? “No, because Jesus (is there)!”

Quoting from Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution of the Church, Francis said that “As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on.”

This means, he explained, that Christ’s Passion and death are taking place every time we celebrate Mass, and our participation in the Eucharist, “brings us into the Paschal Mystery of Christ.”

And if we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, “in faith,” he noted, then “we too can truly love God and neighbor, we can love how He loved us, giving life.”

In the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus, “pours upon us all his mercy and love, as he did on the cross, so as to renew our heart, our existence, and our way of communicating with Him and with our brothers.”

Christ’s Passion and death is the ultimate victory over death, Francis emphasized, because he transformed his death “into the supreme act of love.”

This priest says Adoration has made Juarez a safer city

Juarez, Mexico, Nov 22, 2017 / 03:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, was considered from 2008 to 2010 to be one of the the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.

However, the city of 1.3 million inhabitants dropped off this list thanks to a significant decrease in the number of homicides: from 3,766 in 2010 to 256 in 2015.

Although this drop can be credited to an improvement in the work of local authorities, for Fr. Patrico Hileman – a priest responsible for establishing Perpetual Adoration chapels in Latin America – there is a much deeper reason: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

“When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” Fr. Hileman said.

The priest told Radio María Argentina that in 2013 the missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Juarez. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.”

It was the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, whose former leader Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States.

Fr. Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn't ending because a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning houses down so they would leave, fighting over the city.”

One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they assured that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”

The missionaries only took three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.

Fr. Hileman told how one day, when the city was under a state of siege, a lady was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3:00 in the morning, when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was heading.

When the woman told them that she was going to “the little chapel” the uniformed men asked her what place, because everything was closed at that hour. Then the woman proposed  they accompany her to see for themselves.

When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at the 3:00 in the morning,” Fr. Hileman said.

At that moment the lady said to the soldiers: “Do you think you're protecting us? We're praying for you 24 hours a day.”

One of the uniformed men fell down holding his weapon,“crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3:00 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.

Two months after the chapel was opened, the pastor “calls us and says to us: Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one death in Juarez, it's been two months since anyone has died.”

“We put up ten little chapels in a year,” Fr. Hileman said.

As if that were not enough, “at that time they were going to close the seminary because there were only eight seminarians and now there are 88. The bishop told me me that these seminarians had participated in the Holy Hours.”

Fr. Hileman pointed out that “that is what Jesus does in a parish” when people understand that “we find security in Christ.”

He also noted that “the greatest miracles occur in the early hours of the morning. “

The early morning “is when you're most at peace, when you hear God better, your mind, your heart  is more tranquil, you're there alone for God. If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you,” Fr. Hileman said.

 

This article was originally published on CNA Jan. 26, 2017.

More than 100 couples get married in Paraguay cathedral

AsunciĆ³n, Paraguay, Nov 21, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Over one hundred couples who had been living together but were not yet married celebrated their marriages in the Asuncion Cathedral in Paraguay Nov. 15.

The couples were able to say  “I do,” thanks to support from the Santa Librada Foundation, which put on a program to prepare the couples for marriage, in collaboration with the Asuncion Archdiocese, and the Community of Missionary Families of Christ.

Children and relatives of the couples participated in a Mass celebrated by Fr. Oscar Gonzalez, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, along with 16 others priests and deacons.

The couples came from 18 parishes from various areas in and around Asuncion. Most of the couples participating in the program reported that they had been unable to afford the cost of a wedding on their own.  

111 couples participated in a program of weekly spiritual formation and psychological support, which aimed to help them “understand more deeply the importance of entering into marriage, especially as a covenant with God, which is fundamental in building and strengthening the family,” a sponsor couple told the Encuentro Weekly.

The Retail Company, a socially minded  business which owns a supermarket chain where most of the newlyweds work, paid for the wedding attire, hairdressing, makeup and transportation, according to the EFE news agency.

The large wedding took place as part of the 50th anniversary of the Santa Librada Foundation, the social outreach arm of a local business group, which provides support and assistance to needy families in Paraguay.  

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Why character counts in the voting booth

Denver, Colo., Nov 21, 2017 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- Sexual misconduct allegations against Republican candidate Roy Moore have brought Alabama’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat into the national spotlight.

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) has also been recently accused of kissing and groping women against their will. During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women raised allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

These accusations have raised public debate about whether a candidate’s personal character should matter in elections, and if so, to what extent.

“Obviously, all of us are sinners. But some sins are especially relevant when deciding whether to give one's vote to a candidate,” said Dr. Kevin Miller, professor of moral theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“The key purpose of politics is justice – as thinkers from Aristotle to Pope Benedict XVI have taught,” Miller told CNA.

“Thus it should especially be taken into account when a candidate has – based on good evidence – acted unjustly, and even more especially when the candidate's unjust actions have been habitual and/or when the candidate does not give serious indication of repentance against these actions.”

Moore is the Republican nominee in Alabama’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat, left vacant when former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general earlier this year.

A former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore was removed from the court twice – once for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama judicial building, and later for instructing that same-sex marriage licenses should not be issued after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015.

In recent weeks, nine women have brought allegations of misconduct against Moore, including an accusation of forced sexual contact with a 14-year-old in 1979.

A number of high-profile Republican leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) – have withdrawn their support from Moore, while others, including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, continue to support the candidate. One Alabama pastor told the Boston Globe that he would continue to support Moore even if the allegations against him were true.

Franken, who has publicly criticized other public figures accused of sexual misconduct, has apologized for some accusations leveled against him, while maintaining that other allegations are the result of misunderstanding, or have been mischaracterized. While some public figures have defended him, including former colleagues in the entertainment industry, others have called for investigations, or for his resignation.

When a candidate is facing serious allegations of misconduct, how should Catholics respond?

While Church teaching does not dictate which party or candidate a Catholic should choose, it does offer guidelines for Catholics in the voting booth.

In the 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outline an approach to political responsibility based upon developing a “well-formed conscience.”

In addition to considering moral issues of grave importance, the document says that voting decisions “should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.”

The importance of character and integrity should not be taken lightly, Dr. Miller told CNA.

When there is good evidence that a candidate has habitually or unrepentantly engaged in serious injustice, whether in sexuality or in another area, Miller said, “there is a serious presumption that the candidate ought not be entrusted with decisions about the common good, which consists especially of justice.”

“One doesn't need ‘proof’ that allegations against a candidate are true before one may reasonably decide that such allegations warrant a decision not to vote for the candidate,” Miller continued.

Even when definitive proof is lacking, there may be substantial evidence supporting an allegation, he said. “It is a voter's right and responsibility to make an honest and serious attempt to consider whether such evidence exists. As others have pointed out, a candidate doesn't have a right to one's vote.”

The election of a candidate who has habitually committed serious injustices is likely to cause scandal and a negative influence on culture, Miller said, adding that negative cultural consequences could outweigh the good the candidate might do in office.

Additionally, a candidate who defends serious injustices in his own life may make poor decisions about justice in society, Miller said.

Miller also cautioned that there can be a tendency to be defensive about the candidate that one supports, and to minimize flaws in personal conduct and in policy decisions.

“This is a way in which voting for a ‘bad’ candidate can be bad, not only for justice and the common good, but for the voter's own soul,” he said.

“Thus, there is a serious risk that voting for a ‘bad’ candidate can be the equivalent of trying to gain the world at the expense of one's soul,” he continued, noting that voters must be concerned with personal salvation and the “soul” of political culture.

Miller clarified that deciding not to vote for a candidate in one party does not morally translate to a vote for the candidate of another party.

“There are other alternatives, like voting write-in or third-party – or not voting at all in a particular race,” he said.

Character is not the only factor to be considered in weighing candidates, Miller acknowledged. “There are obviously some policy issues that are extraordinarily serious,” he said, pointing to abortion as an example.

“I think you have to take seriously the gravity of some of the political issues we’re faced with today,” he said. “You also have to take seriously violations of human dignity and justice,” such as some of the allegations being raised against prominent politicians and other leaders.

In the case of a candidate for whom there is evidence of engagement in particularly grave evils and no sign of repentance, Miller said Catholics should at least consider voting third party or abstaining.

In the end, there is no easy formula or flow chart that is guaranteed to give the uniquely correct answer to every question that arises at the ballot box, he said. Catholics should take all factors into account and think about what will serve justice and the common good, not just in the short term, but in the long term.

A part of that discernment, Miller said, is that Catholics consider a candidate’s character and integrity.

“The point is that voters need at least to consider these concerns – in a morally [and] intellectually serious and honest way – rather than simply ignoring [or] dismissing them,” he said.

 

EWTN launches on-demand access to 12,000 programs

Irondale, Ala., Nov 21, 2017 / 04:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- EWTN Global Catholic Network has introduced a new service allowing free on-demand access to a large library of its video content, with more than 12,000 programs available, and more being added regularly.

“EWTN On Demand has something for everyone,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw in a statement on Friday.

 “There’s nothing to fill out, no membership required, and no fees to pay. All you need is an Internet connection and you are good to go,” said EWTN President Doug Keck.

“No one has more hours of Catholic programming on demand than EWTN,” Keck said.

Available at www.ewtn.com/ondemand, the new on-demand service offers content including news, answers to common questions about faith, and book recommendations.

“From news shows like ‘EWTN News Nightly,’ ‘The World Over,’ and ‘EWTN Pro-Life Weekly,’ to classics like ‘Mother Angelica Live,’ ‘Fr. Spitzer’s Universe,’ and ‘Called to Communion,’ EWTN On Demand has you covered!” Warsaw said.

Other available programs include ‘EWTN Live,’ ‘Vaticano,’ ‘Life on the Rock,’ ‘Threshold of Hope,’ and ‘EWTN Bookmark.’ More content will be added to the on-demand collection in the future, the network said.

EWTN Global Catholic Network was launched in 1981 by Mother Angelica of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. The largest religious media network in the world, it reaches more than 270 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

In addition to 11 television channels in multiple languages, EWTN platforms include radio services through shortwave and satellite radio, SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 AM & FM affiliates. EWTN publishes the National Catholic Register, operates a religious goods catalogue, and in 2015 formed EWTN Publishing in a joint venture with Sophia Institute Press. Catholic News Agency is also part of the EWTN family.