CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
Here is the Last Supper painting referenced in Dave Myers's column, in which he tells of the historian Josephus, and how he mentions the fact that Jesus and the Apostles had a pet dog named Winston. Though not mentioned in Scripture, if you squint your eyes and look very carefully, you can see a dog depicted under the table in Da Vinci's Last Supper (above).
May 20, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation
May 6, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Archbishop Romero; Seeing, Touching, Tasting; Exhortation; Father Patrick Conroy; Happy Mother's Day; A child on your doorstep; Vibrant Ministries Grant; From the heart of a young father; Love Gives Life; Roman Holiday; Smartphone; retirement
The elderly: respected and valued by God
By Bishop Arthur Serratelli
Each year, Christmas gives the biggest economic boost to our economy. To celebrate the day, more than 86 percent of Americans purchase gifts for family members and friends. Holiday sales exceed one trillion dollars. However, the big winners in this frantic holiday spending spree are our young people. On average, most children receive anywhere from three to eight gifts and sometimes even many more. We are a society preoccupied with youth.
Entertainment, fashions, and fast food industries cater to the taste of the young. Commercials capitalize on looking young to sell their products. Our culture projects the illusion that life ends before 40. With such great emphasis on youthfulness, it makes aging undesirable and something to be disguised.
In the past half-century, thanks to the progress of medicine, lifespans have increased. The average life expectancy is 78 years old. In the next twenty-five years, the elderly population will increase by nearly 80 percent.
As the traditional extended family vanishes, the elderly among us are increasingly seen as a burden and not a blessing.
“In the West, scientists present the current century as the aging century: children are diminishing, the elderly are increasing,” said Pope Francis during a general audience in 2015.
“This imbalance challenges us, indeed, it is a great challenge for contemporary society. Yet a culture of profit insists on casting off the old like a weight.”
A quick glance at the Christmas crèche could lead someone to think that Christmas was simply about young people. Mary, a teenage mother. Her young husband Joseph. And, a newborn baby. Eternally youthful angels. But, a reading of the entire Christmas narrative shows how important the elderly were for the birth of Jesus. Luke sets the stage for the birth of Jesus by centering our attention on Zechariah and Elizabeth, a pious couple related to Mary and well on in years.
God likes to call the elderly in service to his work of salvation. Moses was 80 and his brother Aaron was 83 when called to lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. In fact, when God wanted to form the Chosen People, he began with an elderly couple. He called Abraham who was close to 100 and his wife Sarah who was 90.
Not only were Abraham and Sarah on in years, they were also childless. Yet, God promised Abraham that Sarah would conceive and bear a son and Abraham would become the father of many nations. God intervened; Isaac was born, and there began the generations of faith that led to the covenant with God on
Sinai. Thus, from the loins of Abraham, the aged patriarch, and his barren wife, there sprung hope for salvation.
St. Luke deliberately begins the Christmas narrative not with Mary and Joseph, but with Zechariah and Elizabeth. They embodied the piety of Israel. They were righteous and kept the laws of the covenant, living in expectation of the coming of the Messiah. And, just like Abraham and Sarah when God offered them a most important role in the drama of salvation, Zechariah and Elizabeth were also elderly and without child.
Fifteen months before the birth of Jesus, Zechariah, a descendant of Aaron, went to the temple to carry out his priestly duties. In his day, there were about 7,000 priests serving in the temple. Zechariah was chosen by lot one morning to offer incense. A coveted privilege. As Zechariah entered the sanctuary of the Temple to perform his duty, he was well aware that this was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for him. His turn had come and he would no longer be involved in the drawing of lots for this office.
At the time of the incense offering, the entire Temple hushed into silence. In the outer courts, the devout bowed in prayer while others outside of Jerusalem gathered in their synagogues to pray. When Zechariah took the incense made from 11 different spices and flung it on the fire, he held close in his heart his own prayer for a child. The sweet-smelling smoke immediately enveloped the Holy Place. Suddenly the angel Gabriel appeared standing at the right side of the altar. Even more startling than the sight of the angel was the angel’s message. Gabriel told the old man that his prayer for a son was answered. Elizabeth would bear a son.
Gabriel informed Zechariah that his son would be no ordinary child. Like the judge Samson and the prophet Samuel, he was consecrated even before his birth for an extraordinary mission. The angel even gave Zechariah the name “John” for the child. This name means “God is gracious.” Certainly, in giving Zechariah and Elizabeth a child in their old age, God was truly gracious. But, more than that, John’s very name announces the new dispensation of grace to be inaugurated with the birth of Jesus.
In both Old and New Testament times, God chose the elderly to usher in something new and extraordinary. In Abraham and Sarah, in Zechariah and Elizabeth, age only served to highlight the miraculous. God overcame the barrenness of the women and the agedness of their husbands. God did not discard their wisdom that came with age nor their faith that had been tested and proved. He valued their virtue and their hope.
Like the patriarch Abraham and his wife Sarah and like the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, the elderly today are a link to the past and the bridge to the future. They are the depositories of great wisdom and faith. The elderly “represent the roots and the memory of a people. … [Their] maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help younger people in search of their own way, supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the future. The elderly, in fact, show that, even in the most difficult trials, we must never lose confidence in God and in a better future” (Pope Francis, Address to Grandparents, October 15, 2016).
The genuineness of our society will always be judged by the way in which we respect and honor our elderly. God does not cast them aside. In fact, he has given them most important roles in the life of faith and in his plan for salvation. He respects and values the elderly. How can we do less?
Bishop Serratelli is the bishop of Paterson, New Jersey.
Catholic Charities Infant Adoption Orientation for couples
The following is provided by Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas:
For couples struggling to start a family, there is hope. There are selfless birthparents looking for couples who can offer a better life for their child than they are able to provide. To help couples navigate the adoption process, Catholic Charities is offering an Infant Adoption Orientation on Jan. 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Newman Western Center, 236 San Jose, Dodge City.
“Catholic Charities is committed to providing education and support for birthparents as they create an adoption plan, and for couples who want to adopt,” said Lori Titsworth, Adoption Social Worker. “So many times, people are interested in adoption but believe it is too expensive, there is a long waiting list, or they misunderstand open infant adoption. We encourage couples who want to learn more about adoption to join us for this educational opportunity. You won’t be sorry.”
Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas is part of a national Catholic Charity network that has been looking after the needs of children, parents and families for more than 100 years.
Catholic Charities launches annual appeal
Catholic charities of Southwest Kansas recently launched the 2017 Year-End Campaign.
“We need your help to make sure that every person who walks through our door experiences hope and fulfillment,” a release read.
Catholic Charities is asking for a special year-end donation of $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to help those in need. To donate online, go to http://catholiccharitiesswks.org/.
Checks made out to Catholic Charities can also be mailed or brought in person to the following locations:
Dodge City Office
906 Central Ave
Dodge City, KS 67801
Garden City Office
603 N 8th St.
Garden City, KS 67846
Great Bend Office
2201 16th St.
Great Bend, KS 67530
“On behalf of those we serve, thank you for your continued support.”
Sister Teresa Orozco, OP, dies
She served God’s people for more than half a century
GREAT BEND -- Sister Teresa Orozco, 76, died Dec. 12, 2017, in the Dominican Sisters’ convent infirmary, Great Bend. Born Oct. 18, 1941, in Lamar, Colo., Teresa was the daughter of the late Pascual and Josephine Jara Orozco. She entered the Dominican Sisters’ Community Aug. 27, 1964, and pronounced her first vows June 13, 1967. She celebrated 50 years of religious life in 2014.
Sister Teresa first worked at the Motherhouse in Great Bend in domestic work before serving as an aide in Saint Catherine Hospital in Garden City, where she also attended classes in nursing education at the local community college. Beginning in 1984, she worked in parish ministry and in the office of Mexican-American Affairs for the Diocese of Dodge City in Elkhart. Later, at the Motherhouse, she served as a translator for the local Spanish-speaking population and as a part time receptionist.
Sister Teresa is survived by her Dominican Sisters of Peace religious community, and one brother, Vincent, and two sisters Susanna (Candie) Stegman and Laura Denise Estep, all of Lamar, Colorado. Sister Teresa’s body was brought to the hospitality area of the Dominican Chapel of the Plains on Dec. 13 where it lay in state until the Mass of Christian Burial Dec. 15, with Father Ted Stoecklein presiding. A wake service was held Dec. 14. Burial was at the Sisters’ Resurrection Cemetery.
Memorials in honor of Sister Teresa Orozco may be sent to: Dominican Sisters of Peace, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus OH 43219-2098 or given securely on line at www.oppeace.org.
Battling the Christmas blues
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
‘Tis the season for joy and good cheer! For celebrating gift giving (and the guilty pleasure of gift receiving!). For looking with renewed appreciation at the Christ child and his Holy Family.
‘Tis the season when people who are struggling with depression are pulled down even farther, as if gravity has suddenly become two-fold. Walking through a department store, with the music and the decoration, can become like an emotional workout, leaving one tired and even more depressed.
The jingle bells are jingling
The streets are white with snow
The happy crowds are mingling
But there’s no one that I know
I’m sure that you’ll forgive me
If I don’t enthuse
I guess I’ve got the Christmas blues
I’m supposed to be happy! What am I doing wrong? This is what happens to those walking in sadness when cheerfulness is supposed to reign.
It can be addiction bringing you down. Or a loved one suffering illness. Your own serious illness, perhaps. Struggling with the loss of a friend or family member. Perhaps you’ve been cheated or have fallen victim. Maybe it’s financial troubles. Divorce, maybe. Or just maybe it’s a mix of little things that add up to one big ... pile.
I’ve done my window shopping
There’s not a store I’ve missed
But what’s the use of stopping
When there’s no one on your list
You’ll know the way I’m feeling
When you love and you lose
I guess I’ve got the Christmas blues
Any of these can make the Christmas season seem like something to be avoided, to be gotten through, to be survived.
Sometimes it’s not the commercialism—the focus on gift-buying superseding the quiet reflection of the coming Christ. Sometimes it’s none of that. Sometimes it’s just the blues. No rhyme or reason.
When somebody wants you
Somebody needs you
Christmas is a joy of joy
But friends when you’re lonely
You’ll find that it’s only
A thing for little girls and little boys
May all your days be merry
Your seasons full of cheer
But ‘til it’s January
I’ll just go and disappear
Oh Santa may have brought you
Some stars for your shoes
But Santa only brought me the blues
Those brightly packaged tinsel covered Christmas blues
Perhaps Christmas shouldn’t be a time when people are filled with such elation. That elation comes from the love of family and friends joined in celebration of Christ’s birth, and not all of us are so lucky.
Perhaps instead, it should be a time of unburdening. A time when we celebrate the anniversary of this incredible gift who is the ultimate unburdening of all our sorrows, all our blues. It’s a time that brought the beginning of the end (the end being the beginning!) the joining of us with the Christ, BFFs for all eternity.
It should be a time that tells you, no matter what troubling things are going on in your life, thanks to this wonderful Christmas gift of the Christ child, the best is yet to come.
The best is always yet to come.
The best is always yet to come!
(Lyrics of song by David Jack Holt.)
A Christmas Wish:
To offer heart and home to an adoptive child
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Step into the Garden City home of Joe and Laci Salazar and it’s easy to envision a child romping around their living room, excited little pooches Daizey and Moto delighting the toddler into squeals of giggles, two loving parents ready and eager to scoop up the child into their arms.
Joe and Laci represent the quintessential American story: A son and a granddaughter of immigrants, both natives of Garden City, Kansas, meeting only after they had attended school together, falling in love, getting married, finding success in their professions—all amid an endearing faith in their loving Lord.
The picture is replete with extended family stretching for miles and for years, including a 92-year-old grandmother—a history text filled with stories of her life, ever eager to share.
What’s missing from the picture is that one little child.
But with the help of Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas Open Adoption Program, as well as a Wichita Christian adoption program called “St. Nick,” the couple hope to give a loving home to a newborn child … by Christmas? A Christmas miracle, to be sure.
They remain patient. The couple has suffered through five losses, three of which were miscarriages. Doctors told Laci her body couldn’t take another such trauma.
“When we first pursued it last year, we knew we wanted a closed adoption,” Laci said. A closed adoption is when information is not exchanged between the birth parent and the adoptive parents.
“Through Catholic Charities we learned about open adoption and were amazed.”
The open adoption system allows the birth parents to be a part of the child’s life. By taking that mystery out of the equation, it is hoped that a healthier environment is created for the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents.
Over a period of months, the couple attended in-depth classes taught by Lori Titsworth, an adoption social worker with Catholic Charities Open Adoption Program. One class resulted in a personal website created by the couple. It is, in effect, a love letter to the birth parent.
Dear Birth Mom:
“We would like to thank you for taking the time to view our profile. We cannot imagine all of the different emotions you must be going through during this time. We know you must be a strong-hearted and loving person to make this selfless decision, and we cannot thank you enough for considering us as an option to parent your child….”
The site includes personal essays Joe and Laci provide about themselves and each other. Their history. How they met. Their love for each other. What kind of parents they would be. And photos, past and present.
Joe, a Material Handling Supervisor for Tyson, was reared with his four brothers and two sisters, often running off to the park adjoining their home to play baseball, basketball or football with the neighborhood kids. Of course, this was only after he was finished with his paper route, and later, when he worked at age 15 for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, spending hot summer days in a cornfield cross pollinating.
His father, Jesus, is from Mexico, immigrating when he was 14 or 15. His mother is from San Antonio. When not working or spending time with family, Joe enjoys woodworking and painting, many results of which decorate their home—and a good game of softball.
Laci is a respiratory therapist. She is the youngest of three siblings to Ron and Melissa (Ohl) Leiker. She and her two older brothers enjoyed summers playing a neighborhood game of hide and seek, with the family spending many a weekend at a lake.
Among her hobbies is baking with her mother and grandmother.
“Grandmother is from Mexico,” she said. “Her dad was killed by a train when she was 17. She and her oldest brother farmed while her mom cared for two younger siblings. Then my grandpa was killed in a car wreck when my grandmother was pregnant with my mother….”
Joe and Laci host a Facebook site detailing their day to day journey toward adoption.
“It’s called ‘Joe and Laci’s Adoption Journey’,” Joe said. “Through the site we make connections, let other people who may be looking to adopt see what we’re going through. It’s a personal look into our lives right here, right now.”
Family is an adventure with impossibly joy-filled times and equally sad times. Laci and Joe have each shared this adventure with their extended families, and now wish to begin a new adventure with an immediate family of their own. Perhaps there will be a Christmas miracle. But either way, the couple remain patient in their faith that like the Christmas child who came 2,000 years ago, their child will come in God’s time.
A Guadalupe encounter
By Charlene Scott-Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Many years ago, in the late nineties, I traveled to Mexico City to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with my friends Dr. John and Rebecca Jackson of Colorado Springs.
I had worked for several years with the Jacksons at their Shroud Center in the Springs, where they gave talks and displayed a life size image of the Holy Shroud of Jesus.
I also had traveled with them to Russia, where they delivered lectures on the Shroud that I videotaped and photographed in Moscow and at a nearby snow-covered village where the monk who brought Christianity to Russia a thousand years ago is revered by thousands who visit his coffin.
In Russia the Jacksons and I stayed together at all times, but in Mexico City the Colorado couple had an important appointment with a friend who was a bishop. I remained behind to explore the Guadalupe shrine for the afternoon.
We had risen early that morning at a Mexico City hotel, and in my rush to get ready, I skipped breakfast and later lunch. I attended Mass that day at the Guadalupe Cathedral in the heart of Mexico City, and after Mass I wandered around the vast courtyard outside the cathedral.
Hundreds of knots of people gathered in the courtyard to pray and exchange stories about their experiences at the shrine, and as the afternoon wore on, I alternated between praying inside the cathedral and wandering about the courtyard searching for the Jacksons.
After a couple of hours, I realized that something was happening to me. I was growing weaker and weaker as the hours passed. I had not yet been diagnosed with diabetes, and I was not aware of the ups and downs diabetics suffer when they do or don’t eat enough. If diabetics go too long without eating, they can pass out and even go into a coma and sometimes die.
I learned later that I already was suffering from diabetes when I traveled to Mexico City. I felt near despair that day at the shrine as I looked in vain for someone to help me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and I was growing worse and weaker instead of better by the hour.
I was praying so hard when a woman, a stranger, came along carrying a long white pillow case as she approached me.
“Are you hungry?” she asked with great sympathy as if she already knew the answer.
“Oh yes,” I answered. “I haven’t had any food all day, and I feel like I’m going to faint.”
The kindly lady reached into the long white pillow case and retrieved a thick sandwich from her unusual luggage. I grasped the sandwich with as much gratitude as I think a person stranded on a desert island would welcome a cool and refreshing drink of water!
“Thank you, thank you!” I said to the woman. “I am so very, very hungry!”
The woman looked as satisfied and happy as I felt. And then she was gone! After gobbling down the precious sandwich, I searched and searched for her to thank her again, but I never could find her.
She was tall and thin with dark shoulder-length hair. She appeared to be in her mid-forties and spoke perfect English. I thought she was an American.
I have told this story to some of my family and friends, and two friends said at different times that they thought the lady was our beloved Blessed Mother, who first appeared to the humble peasant Juan Diego nearly 500 years ago, imprinting her image on his tilma (cloak) that now hangs behind the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in Mexico City.
Perhaps she was the sympathetic Mother of our Saviour, who watched him die hungry and thirsty in agony on a rough wooden cross, but I think she probably was a lady to whom Mary had whispered “Over there is a woman who is hungry!”
Either way, I felt that this unknown person and her sympathetic generosity had saved my life that day and reminded me of the goodness of the Lord and his mother.
Meeting the stranger with the sandwich at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a wonderful encounter and enough of a miracle for me, no matter who she was!