CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
Feb. 18, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Catholic Schools Week; Rachel Doll; Ellinwood; Great Bend; Garden City; Ness City; Dodge City; Sister Rita Schwarzenberger; Nigeria; Bishop Hermes; Fasting for Priestly Vocations; World Day for Consecrated Life; 50th Anniversary St. Dominic School; What will life be like in 50 years?
Feb. 4, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: March for Life; Tracy and Ross Smith; Adoption; Vibrant Ministries; Faith and Light;
Pro-Life; Mortal sin to discard elderly; DACA; Abortion; Dreamers; Human Trafficking
St. Nicholas School, Kinsley, Advent Cantata, Dec. 7, 2008
Click on the photo below for the 41-minute concert.
Mother Teresa was heroic – but maybe not for the reasons you think
Vatican City, Jun 7, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There are many things about Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta that could be called heroic – her tireless service to the world's most rejected and her courageous witness to millions of what it is to live the Gospel, just to name a couple.
But the priest who oversaw her path to sainthood said that for him, one thing stands out above all the rest: her experience of spiritual darkness and what she described as feeling totally abandoned by God for the majority of her life.
“The single most heroic thing is exactly her darkness. That pure living, that pure, naked faith,” Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator for Mother Teresa's canonization cause, told CNA in an interview. Fr. Kolodiejchuk is a priest of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, founded by Mother Teresa in 1989.
By undergoing the depth and duration of the desolation she experienced and doing everything that she did for others in spite of it, “that's really very heroic,” he said.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu Aug. 26, 1910 in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Sisters of Loretto at the age of 17, but later left after she felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and to live among the poor.
She went on to found several communities of both active and contemplative Missionaries of Charity, which include religious sisters, brothers, and priests.
The first community of active sisters was founded in 1950. An order of active brothers was founded nearly 20 years later in 1968. Then two contemplative orders came, one of women (in 1976) and one of men (in 1979).
In 1989 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers was established, and is a clerical religious institute of diocesan right whose members make promises of poverty, chastity, obedience, and wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.
Additionally, an order of lay missionaries was also founded in 1984, and several movements who organize various works of charity have also been born as part of the Missionaries of Charity spiritual family.
One of the first steps in declaring someone a saint is to determine their heroic virtue. Fr. Kolodiejchuk said that Mother Teresa's entire life was lived heroically, which was clear from what he had seen firsthand and heard from the testimonies of others, even though he himself has only been a part of the Missionaries of Charity family for 20 years.
He said the most heroic aspect of Mother Teresa's life and vocation is the more than 50 years of darkness and abandonment she felt after receiving what she termed “a call within a call” to leave the Sisters of Loretto and found the Missionaries of Charity.
Although the Albanian nun is always seen beaming and smiling brightly in photos, she experienced a profound internal desolation during which she felt silence and rejection from God, who seemed distant.
In a letter to her spiritual director in 1957, Mother Teresa wrote that “I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer. Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.”
“Love – the word – it brings nothing. I am told God lives in me – and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she said.
Mother Teresa had prayed fervently to share in Jesus’ suffering, and many, including her spiritual director, believed her feelings of rejection and abandonment to be a mirror of Christ's own experience of loneliness and desolation during his Passion and death.
Because of the depth and duration of Mother Teresa's spiritual desert, many have hailed her as a great mystic when it comes to topic of spiritual darkness.
Fr. Kolodiejchuk himself said Mother Teresa was “a great mystic, but also very concrete, very down to earth.”
The priest had met Mother Teresa in his early 20s while attending the vows of his sister, who had joined the active branch of the Missionaries of Charity sisters. He joined the order of priests a year later.
A lot of people “think that saints are somewhere in the mystical clouds,” he said, but cautioned that this wasn’t true of Mother Teresa, who was spiritual, but also observant and active in the lives of others.
From the first moment he met her, of Mother Teresa's most distinguishing qualities was “this sense that she really was Mother,” he said, explaining that being a mother was something important to her, and was the only thing she was ever called.
When Mother Teresa was first elected superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, her immediate response after receiving congratulations, he noted, was to say “Oh that means nothing, the title. No, I want to be a mother.”
The nun also placed a heavy emphasis on God’s tenderness, Fr. Kolodiejchuk said, recalling that “tender” was one of her favorite words – even more so than mercy.
“She would talk more about Jesus’ tender love and mercy; his thoughtfulness, his presence, his compassion…So mercy was a word in her vocabulary, but with this quality especially of tenderness.”
“Even in the darkness she still had an intimate sense of God’s tender love for us,” he said, and recited a prayer that Mother Teresa would often teach and have others repeat: “Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you.”
The priest said that her canonization during the Jubilee of Mercy was providential since the core mission of the Missionaries of Charity is to respond to Chapter 25 in the Gospel of Matthew, which lists the works of mercy.
He noted how the day of Mother Teresa’s canonization also marked a special jubilee day for workers and volunteers of mercy.
Given the work the Missionaries of Charity do, “it’s appropriate” that the nun would become a patroness for all who carry out the same type of activities, he said.
Part of the reason Mother Teresa is such a strong example for the world today, Fr. Kolodiejchuk believes, is because “people like to see,” and the work the Missionaries do is something visible that others can easily touch and participate in, no matter what religion they profess.
“Mother was a great believer in that we receive in giving. So there’s something attractive about the work. And then you receive by sharing in it,” he said.
Delaware legislature votes to drop restrictions on abortion
.- In Delaware, lawmakers’ vote to pass a bill that would strike down almost all remaining abortion restrictions drew strong criticism from pro-life advocates, who warned it would provide safe harbor for Kermit Gosnell-style abortionists.
“Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are using Delaware as a testing ground for their extreme legislation to ensure abortionists can carry out abortions without limit – even on healthy children hours from birth,” charged Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
Under Delaware’s current law, which was rendered inactive by federal laws and court decisions, abortion is allowed only in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, if there is a substantial risk the unborn child would be born with serious disabilities, or if the child was conceived in rape or incest, the Associated Press reports.
Current law also bars abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy. It requires parental consent for girls under 18, and written consent and a 24-hour waiting period for a woman seeking abortion. Women seeking abortion must also receive a full explanation of fetal development, the abortion procedure and its effects, and reasonable alternatives to abortion.
These measures are stripped under the bill. Instead, the bill would allow abortion without restriction before viability, and would allow abortion after viability if a doctor determines it is necessary to protect a woman’s life or health, or that the baby is not likely to survive without extraordinary measures.
The Susan B. Anthony List and other critics charged that the bill would make abortion legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
The bill passed the Senate by one vote in May. It passed the House June 6 by a vote of 22-16.
Democratic Gov. John Carney will sign the bill, a spokesman said.
Ellen Barrosse, a pro-life leader in Delaware and a Republican National Committeewoman, invoked the crimes of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist convicted of murdering three infants who had survived abortion at a legal abortion clinic that went without a health inspection for 17 years. Gosnell would also work in Delaware, but did not face legal charges there.
“This bill would open the floodgates to Gosnell-style ‘houses of horrors’ abortion clinics in Delaware,” Barrosse said.
She charged that Delaware women have “suffered at the hands of unscrupulous abortionists.”
The Susan B. Anthony List cited other abortionists who have faced disciplinary action in the state as well as a 2013 report from ABC Philadelphia that two nurses at the Planned Parenthood of Delaware abortion clinic quit their jobs and alleged unsafe, unsanitary conditions and “a meat-market style of assembly-line abortions” at the facility.
Barrosse cited a trend favoring abortion restrictions in 20 U.S. states, saying: “Delaware is headed backwards.”
Dannenfelser, who chaired the Donald Trump presidential campaign’s pro-life coalition and its Catholic advisory board, contended that abortion advocates are “running scared” given the presence of “a pro-life president in the White House and already one pro-life [Supreme Court] justice nominated and confirmed.”
On June 6, the Susan B. Anthony List announced details of a nearly six-figure campaign to urge legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives to oppose the bill, which passed the House the same day. The campaign included a radio ad, digital campaign, direct mail, constituent phone calls, and a rally.
This cloistered nun got her doctorate in aerospace engineering
Mumbai, India, Jun 7, 2017 / 12:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A cloistered nun in India came out of her convent for an extraordinary reason: to attend a graduation ceremony for her doctorate in Aerospace Engineering.
“I had joined the religious order after my final oral exam last year, and this was the first time I came out after that. The rules of our order forbid us from going out of the convent, but I was given special permission to attend the convocation,” Sister Benedicta of the Holy Face told Matters India last summer.
The 32-year-old nun lives in a cloistered convent Carmelite Monastery in Pune, India.
Born in Kuwait before the Gulf War, Sister Benedicta studied at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and then earned a Master’s degree in space science from Pune University, located 90 miles from Mumbai.
She earned her PhD from the Defense Institute of Advanced Technology in Pune. According to Matters India, her doctoral work in the field of aerospace engineering involved scramjet engines, which are used mainly for hyper-sonic vehicles and space vehicles.
Sister Benedicta had always felt a call to the consecrated life, but made the decision to become a nun after attending a spiritual retreat in Pune. She finished her doctorate studies before telling her family that she wanted to enter a cloistered convent.
Pope Francis, Trump hold landmark first meeting
Vtican City, May 24, 2017 / 02:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After months of anticipation, Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump finally met at the Vatican Wednesday in a friendly encounter which included an emphasis on protection of life and freedom of conscience.
According to a May 24 Vatican communique, Pope Francis and Trump expressed satisfaction "for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience."
The Pope and Trump met at the Vatican May 24, at 8:30a.m., immediately before the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Trump arrived to Italy May 23 after stopping in both Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of his first international trip. He is also set to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 summit in Sicily on May 26 before returning to the U.S.
President Trump arrived to the Vatican via the side entrance by Casa Santa Marta around 8:15a.m. and was greeted by a group of Swiss Guards in the San Damaso courtyard. After stepping out of the car, Trump and First Lady Melania greeted Archbishop Georg Ganswein and other Vatican dignitaries before entering the Apostolic Palace.
Pope Francis and Trump smiled as they sat down at the Pope’s desk in the papal library. Pope Francis said, “Welcome!” and Trump responded, “Thank you very much, this is such a great honor.”
Smiling, Francis explained that he doesn't speak English well and needs a translator, but added that he was “very happy to meet” Trump.
After the cameras left the two began the private portion of their conversation, which lasted about 30 minutes. In addition to Pope Francis and Trump, only the Pope's English translator, Msgr. Mark Miles, was present.
During the "cordial discussions," the two expressed hope for peaceful collaboration between the government and the Catholic Church in the United States, that it may be "engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants," the Vatican communique stated.
Pope Francis and President Trump also exchanged views "on various themes relating to international affairs, the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation inthe Middle East and the protection of Christian communities."
After their formal conversation, gifts were exchanged between Francis, Trump and the president’s official delegation. There were 12 people in his entourage, including First Lady Melania Trump; daughter Ivanka, Tump's assistant and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his assistant and senior advisor.
Also present for the meeting with Pope Francis were U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs H.R. McMaster and Louis Bono, American Chargé d'Affaires ad interim to the Holy See until Calista Gingrich us officially approved as ambassador.
Despite their differing opinions on climate change, Pope Francis gave Trump a copy of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, as well as copies of his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”
In addition to the customary gift of these three documents, Francis also gave President Trump a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, saying: “I signed it personally for you.” Trump responded that he would be reading them.
The Pope also gifted the U.S. President with a medallion he said symbolized peace and unity, which, after the translator explained in English, he added in Spanish: “Have it so that you become an instrument of peace.” In response, Trump said that “we can use peace.”
On his part, President Trump gifted Pope Francis a set of books by Martin Luther King, Jr., saying: “I think you’ll enjoy them, I hope you do."
Members of the delegation each received a medal and a rosary from the pontiff. When greeting Francis, First Lady Melania told him that she would afterward be visiting the hospital. Joking, the Pope asked her if they had given her potica, a traditional Slovenian dessert, to eat, to which she responded, “yes, potica,” as they both laughed.
Departing with a handshake, Trump said to Francis: "Thank you, thank you, I won't forget what you said."
After meeting with Pope Francis, Trump met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, as is customary for heads of state.
Pope Francis went immediately to begin the Wednesday general audience with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
After the meeting, First Lady Melania paid a visit to the Vatican-owned Pediatric hospital Bambino Gesu, also known as the “Pope’s hospital.”
Bambino Gesu sits next to the Pontifical North American College on top of Rome’s Gianicolo hill, and is among the most important pediatric hospitals in the world. Founded in 1869 by the Duchess Arabella Salviati, the hospital was donated to Pius XI in 1924, with the aim of giving it a more stable future.
At the same time, Trump’s daughter and high-profile adviser, Ivanka, will make her way to the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere to meet with the Community of Sant’Egidio to discuss efforts to oppose human trafficking.
The Sant’Egidio Community is often praised by Pope Francis for their work with the poor and refugees, in particular.
Ivanka is participating in each of the seven days of Trump’s first trip abroad as president, and was also present for the public portion of his meeting with Francis.
Before leaving with her father on his first international tour, Ivanka hosted an anti-human trafficking roundtable discussion at the White House May 17.
During her meeting with Sant’Egidio, she is expected to meet with several women who are victims of trafficking, and discuss various ways in which the Church and the U.S. government can collaborate on the issue.
This article was updated at 12:12 p.m. local time in Rome with information from the official Vatican communique.
In bill veto, Oklahoma takes a stand against loan sharks
Oklahoma City, Okla., May 9, 2017 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The governor of Oklahoma vetoed a bill that would have drastically increased the interest rates of payday loans, joining the fight of the bishops around the country who have pushed back on similar legislation.
“House Bill 1913 adds yet another level of high interest borrowing without terminating or restricting access to existing payday loan products,” Governor Mary Fallin said in her veto statement last week.
The bill was vetoed May 5, with Fallin voicing her concern that the loans created by the bill would be “more expensive than the current loan options.”
Bishops throughout the U.S. have decried the use of payday loans, and have backed legislation which would restrict the effect these loans on have on the borrowers – communities who are often targeted for their lack of education and immediate need. Catholic Charities has even opened organizations which may assist those in need or struggling with high interest loans.
Payday loans are a small amount of money with a high interest level. Often times these loans are taken out for situations such emergency doctor appointments or car troubles. The name of payday loans derives from the understanding that the loan would be paid back within the next paycheck, but the high interest rates usually suffocate the costumer who is struggling to make ends meet.
Payday loans have led people into a circular trap in which they can only pay the high monthly interest or roll over fees continue to add up and become unmanageable.
HB 1913 would mean that loan companies could increase the monthly interest rate to 17 percent, which is three to four times greater than Oklahoma's current laws. The annual percentage rate would be about 204.
According to OKpolicy.org, in 2014 nearly 950,000 dollars was taken out in payday loans and 1.2 million in “B” loans, averaging 77 loans per 100 Oklahoman adults.
Bishops and Catholic leaders throughout the U.S. have fought similar legislation like HB 1913 and backed bills that restrict loan sharks.
Regulations have been passed in order to limit the amount of times lenders are allowed to charge borrower’s fees or how many times loan companies can access a person’s bank account before overdraft fees stack up. Legislation has also been passed that enforced lenders to evaluate whether the borrower has sufficient means to pay back the loans.
These loans will affect people in the middle-class, but they are well known to be marketed towards people who may not understand the full consequences.
In a 2015 interview with The Dallas Morning News, the pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Arlington said “it seems that every week another member of my parish tells me a horror story about one of these loans. They debilitate our families. People take out loans without fully understanding the terms.”
The Texas Catholic Conference analyzed the situation across the state, talking to both lenders and borrowers. Jennifer Allmon, associate director of the Texas Catholic Conference, said that the stores were located in areas where a loan may be more attractive or that the lenders misled borrowers with misinformation.
She said the contracts will often only be in English, but advertising and conversation in the shop would be conducted in Spanish “so oftentimes the borrower has no idea what they're signing,” and the interest rate would be significantly hirer than what the borrower had expected.
The Kansas Loan Pool Project, in a partnership with Sunflower Bank, has assisted over 120 people who have struggled under predatory debt, and $80,000 has been refinanced since its establishment in 2013. The program provides the borrower with a more traditional loan in order to cover the payday loan. Then they will help the person develop the financial skills to budget to pay back the lower interest loan.
Catholic Charities in Kansas has also begun a program in order to provide small, low interest loans, with a maximum of a $1000, so that people who do have an immediate need are able to receive the proper funding.
Blessing of cross begins rebuilding of Iraqi towns destroyed by Islamic State
Mosul, Iraq, May 9, 2017 / 10:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With the blessing of the cross raised up in the city of Bakhdida May 2, the reconstruction of the towns in the Plain of Nineveh in Iraq destroyed by the Islamic State officially began.
Syrian Catholic Archbishop Youhanna Boutros Moshe of Mosul blessed the cross on a joyous morning with emotive dances by Christians. There are 13,000 damaged houses – 669 of which were completely destroyed by the Islamists – which will be rebuilt in three towns on the Plain of Nineveh: Bartella, Karemlesh, and Bakhdida.
The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which is collaborating on the reconstruction, estimated the total cost of the program to be in excess of $250 million.
To date ACN has provided around $500,000 to the Nineveh Reconstruction Commission.
Work has already begun on the rebuilding of 100 Christian homes in the communities, and during a May 8 ceremony the owners of each of the homes were given olive trees to be planted as symbols of peace and reconciliation.
Speaking to CNA Fr. Luis Montes, a missionary priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word In Iraq, said that “Christians are very hopeful with the beginning of the reconstruction of the cities of the Plain of Nineveh.”
“Most of those who have remained in Iraq – some estimate that they are half of those that originally fled from ISIS more than two years ago, the other half have probably already left the country – want to stay and return to their cities,” he said.
However, he pointed out, “you can't say the drama is over for several reasons, including the fact that the community has been greatly reduced and that is cause for sadness and for greater weakness both now and especially for the future.”
“In addition recovering all the territories that ISIS has taken doesn't mean defeating them, because they will continue on as a clandestine group with attacks, just like the other terrorist groups,” he pointed out.
According to the research firm RAND, the Islamic State has lost about 60 percent of the territory it controlled at the height of its power in late 2014.
The largest offensive against the Islamist group conducted since in October 2016 by combined groups of the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, recovered villages in the Plain of Nineveh. Currently, the combined groups are fighting for control of Mosul.
Fr. Montes noted that “Iraq has had dozens of attacks a month for more than ten years and that will continue. And you mustn't forget that once the battle for Mosul is over tensions between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan autonomous region will sharply pick up again.”
“Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that this reconstruction process and the soon return of Christians to their homes isn't big news. Very big news! But we must keep praying because it's still a very long road,” he urged.
Fr. Andrzej Halemba, head of ACN's Near East division, said that with the start of reconstruction work in Bartella, Karemlesh, and Bakhdida, “we want to send a clear signal to the thousands of Christian families driven from their homes in the Plain of Nineveh who now are living in an improvised and provisional way in Erbil, and other localities in Iraqi Kurdistan.”
“This is a decidedly historic moment. If we now miss the opportunity to help Christians return to their homes in the Plain of Nineveh, these families could make the decision to leave Iraq forever, and this would be a huge tragedy.”
For Fr. Halemba “the presence of Christians in this region is of vital importance, but not just from the historical point of view, but also from the political and cultural stance,” since “Christians represent a bridge of peace between the different Muslim groups at odds with each other; they make a crucial contribution to the education system and are respected by all the moderate Muslims.”
The priest appealed for both financial aid and prayers for the Christians in Iraq.
“From all our brothers and sisters in the West we are not just asking for financial aid, but also prayers with which to support the courage of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have made the decision to return to their towns and remain in Iraq.”
By the end of June 2017 ACN, which says it is the only international organization to consistently support the Christian exiles from the Nineveh plain since its capture by the Islamic State, will have spent more than $35 million in supporting the 12,000 Christian internally displaced persons in Kurdistan. Assistance has come in the form of monthly food aid, money for rent, medical help, the construction of schools, and the support of displaced clergy and women religious.