Archive for “2014”

January 3 – Lectio Divina

Saturday, January 3 ~ Tenth Day in the Season of Christmas

Most Holy Name of Jesus

 

Holy Gospel: John 1:29-34 John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

 

Meditation: John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus’ mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) delivered the Israelites in Egypt from death. The blood of Jesus, the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), delivers us from everlasting death and destruction. It is significant that John was the son of a priest, Zachariah, who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29). In Jesus he saw the true and only sacrifice which can deliver us from sin. When John says he did not know Jesus he was referring to the hidden reality of Jesus divinity. But the Holy Spirit in that hour revealed to John Jesus’ true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. We can only know who Jesus truly is through the Holy Spirit who reveals him to us. Do you seek to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ?

 

Prayer: O God, who founded the salvation of the human race on the Incarnation of your Word, give your peoples the mercy they implore, so that all may know there is no other name to be invoked but the Name of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: From apostolic times, the Church has professed that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). Through the particular efforts of St. Bernardine of Siena, devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was promoted through the inscription of the monogram of the Holy Name (IHS) and the addition of the name of Jesus to the Hail Mary. Pope Sixtus V first granted an indulgence for the uttering of the phrase used so often by Pope Saint John Paul II and included among the pious invocations of the current Enchiridion Indulgentiarum: “Praised be Jesus Christ!”

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Daily meditations and contemplations adapted from the Irish Jesuits’ Sacred Space web page and Biblical Medications for the Christmas

Season by Rev. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P.; prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of the Catholic Culture web site.

 

frlumpe:2014

 

January 2 – Lectio Divina

Friday, January 2 ~ Ninth Day in the Season of Christmas

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

 

Holy Gospel: John 1:19-28 This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

 

Meditation: John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Christ by the life you lead, by the lifestyle you embrace, by what you choose to do and not do, by your witness and example?

 

Prayer: O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by the example and teaching of the Bishops Saints Basil and Gregory, grant, we pray, that in humility we may learn your truth and practice it faithfully in charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Do you recognize the Lord’s presence in your life? John the Baptist did such a great job of stirring the peoples’ expectation of the Messiah’s arrival, that many thought he might be the Messiah himself, or at least the great prophet Elijah who was expected to reappear at the Messiah’s coming (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15). John had no mistaken identity. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to prepare the way for the coming of the King. John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament Prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  Do you recognize your identity as a child of God and a citizen of heaven?  If not, it’s never too late to change!

 

January 1 – Lectio Divina

Thursday, January 1 ~ Solemnity of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God

+ A Holy Day of Obligation +

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 2:16-21 The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

 

Meditation: What’s the significance of a name? For the Jewish people the giving of a name had great importance. When a name was given it represented what that person should be in the future. An unknown name meant that someone could not be completely known. To not acknowledge someone’s name meant both denial of the person, destruction of their personality, and change in their destiny. A person’s name expressed the reality of his or her being at its deepest level. A Jewish child was named at the time of circumcision, eight days after birth. This rite was instituted by God as an outward sign to single out those who belonged to the chosen people. It was a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his posterity.

 

Prayer: O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: In fulfillment of this precept, Mary’s newborn child is given the name Jesus on the eighth day according to the Jewish custom. Joseph and Mary gave the name Jesus because that is the name given by God’s messenger before Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb. This name signifies Jesus’ identity and his mission. The literal Hebrew means the Lord saves. Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).  In the birth and naming of this child we see the wondrous design and plan of God in giving us a Savior who would bring us grace, mercy, and freedom from the power of sin and the fear of death. The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son who became man for our salvation.  Peter the Apostle exclaimed that there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved (Acts 2:12). In the name of Jesus demons flee, cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised. His name is exalted far above every other name (Philippians 2:9-11). The name Jesus is at the heart of all Christian prayer. It is through and in Jesus that we pray to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians have died with one word on the lips, the name of Jesus. Do you exalt the name of Jesus and pray with confidence in his name?

December 31 – Lectio Divina

Wednesday, December 31 ~ Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

Saint Sylvester I, Pope

 

Holy Gospel: John 1:1-18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.

 

Meditation: Why does John the Evangelist begin his gospel with a description of the Word of God? The “word of God” was a common expression among the Jews. God’s word in the Old Testament is an active, creative, and dynamic word.  “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Psalm 33:6).  “He sends forth his commands to the earth; his word runs swiftly” (Psalm 147:15).  “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29)? John describes Jesus as God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving word that has come to earth in human form. Jesus is the wisdom and power of God which created the world and sustains it who assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God. “What he was, he remained, and what he was not he assumed” (from an early church antiphon for morning prayer).  Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother. From the time of the Apostles the Christian faith has insisted on the incarnation of God’s Son “who has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2)

 

Prayer: Come, O Lord, to the help of your people, sustained by the intercession of Pope Saint Sylvester, so that, running the course of this present life under your guidance we may happily attain life without end. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Saint Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great early Church fathers (330-395 AD) wrote: “Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again.  We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.  Are these things minor or insignificant?  Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?” If we are going to behold the glory of God, we will do so through Jesus Christ.  Jesus became the partaker of our humanity so we could be partakers of his divinity (2 Peter 1:4). God’s purpose for us, even from the beginning of his creation, is that we would be fully united with Him  When Jesus comes God is made known as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his sons and daughters.  Do you thank the Father for sending his only begotten Son to redeem you and to share with you his glory?

December 30 – Lectio Divina

Tuesday, December 30 ~ Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Holy Gospel: Luke 2:26-30  There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

 

Meditation: What do you hope for? The hope which God places in our heart is the desire for the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness. Hope grows with prayer and age. Anna was pre-eminently a woman of great hope and expectation that God would fulfill all his promises. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she was found daily in the house of the Lord, attending to the Lord in prayer and speaking prophetically to others about the Lord’s promise to send a redeemer. She is a model of godliness to all believers as we advance in age. Advancing age and the disappointments of life can easily make us cynical and hopeless if we do not have our hope placed rightly. Anna’s hope in God and his promises grew with age! She never ceased to worship God in faith and to pray with hope. Her hope and faith in God’s promises fueled her indomitable zeal and fervor in prayer and service of God’s people.

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the newness of the Nativity in the flesh of your Only Begotten Son may set us free, for ancient servitude holds us bound beneath the yoke of sin. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: A logical question is how do we grow in hope? The answer is simple: by placing our trust in the promises of Jesus Christ and relying not on our own strength, but on the grace and help of the Holy Spirit. Does your hope and fervor for God grow with age?

December 29 – Lectio Divina

“The more the rain falls on the earth, the softer it makes it; similarly, Christ’s holy name gladdens the earth of our heart the more we call upon it.”  ~St. Hesychios of Sinai

 

Monday, December 29 ~ Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Saint Thomas Beckett, Bishop and Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 2:22-35  When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.  This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

 

Meditation: The Holy Spirit gave Zechariah a vision for his own son as a prophet and forerunner who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Every devout Jew longed for the day when the Messiah would come. Now Zechariah knows beyond a doubt that that day is very near. Like Zechariah, the Holy Spirit wants to give us vision, joy, and confidence in the knowledge of God’s merciful love, protection, and care which he offers us through his Son Jesus Christ. Like the Baptist, we too are called to prepare the way that leads to Christ. Life is a journey and we are either moving towards the Lord or away from the Lord. The Lord comes to visit us each day with his  life-giving Word and Spirit. Those who hunger for the Lord will not be disappointed.  He will draw them to himself and show them his love and mercy.

 

Prayer: O God, who gave the Martyr Saint Thomas Becket the courage to give up his life for the sake of justice, grant, through his intercession, that, renouncing our life for the sake of Christ in this world, we may find it in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Does the proclamation of the gospel fill you with joy and hope? When the Lord comes to redeem us he fills us with his Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and hope in the promises of God. John the Baptist was born shortly before Mary delivered her son, Jesus. When John was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Jewish rite, his father Zechariah was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and with great joy. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he spoke out a prophetic word and hymn of blessing for the work of redemption which God was about to accomplish in Christ.

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

 

 

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE
WORLD DAY OF PEACE

1 JANUARY 2015

 

 

 

NO LONGER SLAVES, BUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS

 

  1. At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.

 

In my message for Peace last year, I spoke of “the desire for a full life… which includes a longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced”.[1] Since we are by nature relational beings, meant to find fulfilment through interpersonal relationships inspired by justice and love, it is fundamental for our human development that our dignity, freedom and autonomy be acknowledged and respected. Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God’s word, we can consider all men and women “no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters”.

 

Listening to God’s plan for humanity

  1. The theme I have chosen for this year’s message is drawn from Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks his co-worker to welcome Onesimus, formerly Philemon’s slave, now a Christian and, therefore, according to Paul, worthy of being considered a brother. The Apostle of the Gentiles writes: “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (vv. 15-16). Onesimus became Philemon’s brother when he became a Christian. Conversion to Christ, the beginning of a life lived Christian discipleship, thus constitutes a new birth (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Pet 1:3) which generates fraternity as the fundamental bond of family life and the basis of life in society.

 

In the Book of Genesis (cf. 1:27-28), we read that God made man male and female, and blessed them so that they could increase and multiply. He made Adam and Eve parents who, in response to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, brought about the first fraternity, that of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were brothers because they came forth from the same womb. Consequently they had the same origin, nature and dignity as their parents, who were created in the image and likeness of God.

 

But fraternity also embraces variety and differences between brothers and sisters, even though they are linked by birth and are of the same nature and dignity. As brothers and sisters, therefore, all people are in relation with others, from whom they differ, but with whom they share the same origin, nature and dignity. In this way, fraternity constitutes the network of relations essential for the building of the human family created by God.

Tragically, between the first creation recounted in the Book of Genesis and the new birth in Christ whereby believers become brothers and sisters of the “first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29), there is the negative reality of sin, which often disrupts human fraternity and constantly disfigures the beauty and nobility of our being brothers and sisters in the one human family. It was not only that Cain could not stand Abel; he killed him out of envy and, in so doing, committed the first fratricide. “Cain’s murder of Abel bears tragic witness to his radical rejection of their vocation to be brothers. Their story (cf. Gen 4:1-16) brings out the difficult task to which all men and women are called, to live as one, each taking care of the other”.[2]

This was also the case with Noah and his children (cf. Gen 9:18-27). Ham’s disrespect for his father Noah drove Noah to curse his insolent son and to bless the others, those who honored him. This created an inequality between brothers born of the same womb.

 

In the account of the origins of the human family, the sin of estrangement from God, from the father figure and from the brother, becomes an expression of the refusal of communion. It gives rise to a culture of enslavement (cf. Gen 9:25-27), with all its consequences extending from generation to generation: rejection of others, their mistreatment, violations of their dignity and fundamental rights, and institutionalized inequality. Hence, the need for constant conversion to the Covenant, fulfilled by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, in the confidence that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… through Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:20-21). Christ, the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17), came to reveal the Father’s love for humanity. Whoever hears the Gospel and responds to the call to conversion becomes Jesus’ “brother, sister and mother” (Mt 12:50), and thus an adopted son of his Father (cf. Eph 1:5).

 

One does not become a Christian, a child of the Father and a brother or sister in Christ, as the result of an authoritative divine decree, without the exercise of personal freedom: in a word, without being freely converted to Christ. Becoming a child of God is necessarily linked to conversion: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). All those who responded in faith and with their lives to Peter’s preaching entered into the fraternity of the first Christian community (cf. 1 Pet 2:17; Acts 1:15-16, 6:3, 15:23): Jews and Greeks, slaves and free (cf. 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28). Differing origins and social status did not diminish anyone’s dignity or exclude anyone from belonging to the People of God. The Christian community is thus a place of communion lived in the love shared among brothers and sisters (cf. Rom 12:10; 1 Thess 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 2 Pet 1:7).

 

All of this shows how the Good News of Jesus Christ, in whom God makes “all things new” (Rev 21:5),[3] is also capable of redeeming human relationships, including those between slaves and masters, by shedding light on what both have in common: adoptive sonship and the bond of brotherhood in Christ. Jesus himself said to his disciples: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).

 

The many faces of slavery yesterday and today

  1. From time immemorial, different societies have known the phenomenon of man’s subjugation by man. There have been periods of human history in which the institution of slavery was generally accepted and regulated by law. This legislation dictated who was born free and who was born into slavery, as well as the conditions whereby a freeborn person could lose his or her freedom or regain it. In other words, the law itself admitted that some people were able or required to be considered the property of other people, at their free disposition. A slave could be bought and sold, given away or acquired, as if he or she were a commercial product.

Today, as the result of a growth in our awareness, slavery, seen as a crime against humanity,[4] has been formally abolished throughout the world. The right of each person not to be kept in a state of slavery or servitude has been recognized in international law as inviolable.

 

Yet, even though the international community has adopted numerous agreements aimed at ending slavery in all its forms, and has launched various strategies to combat this phenomenon, millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery.

 

I think of the many men and women laborers, including minors, subjugated in different sectors, whether formally or informally, in domestic or agricultural workplaces, or in the manufacturing or mining industry; whether in countries where labor regulations fail to comply with international norms and minimum standards, or, equally illegally, in countries which lack legal protection for workers’ rights.

 

I think also of the living conditions of many migrants who, in their dramatic odyssey, experience hunger, are deprived of freedom, robbed of their possessions, or undergo physical and sexual abuse. In a particular way, I think of those among them who, upon arriving at their destination after a grueling journey marked by fear and insecurity, are detained in at times inhumane conditions. I think of those among them, who for different social, political and economic reasons, are forced to live clandestinely. My thoughts also turn to those who, in order to remain within the law, agree to disgraceful living and working conditions, especially in those cases where the laws of a nation create or permit a structural dependency of migrant workers on their employers, as, for example, when the legality of their residency is made dependent on their labor contract. Yes, I am thinking of “slave labour”.

I think also of persons forced into prostitution, many of whom are minors, as well as male and female sex slaves. I think of women forced into marriage, those sold for arranged marriages and those bequeathed to relatives of their deceased husbands, without any right to give or withhold their consent.

 

Nor can I fail to think of all those persons, minors and adults alike, who are made objects of trafficking for the sale of organs, for recruitment as soldiers, for begging, for illegal activities such as the production and sale of narcotics, or for disguised forms of cross-border adoption.

 

Finally, I think of all those kidnapped and held captive by terrorist groups, subjected to their purposes as combatants, or, above all in the case of young girls and women, to be used as sex slaves. Many of these disappear, while others are sold several times over, tortured, mutilated or killed.

 

Some deeper causes of slavery

  1. Today, as in the past, slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person which allows him or her to be treated as an object. Whenever sin corrupts the human heart and distances us from our Creator and our neighbors, the latter are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects. Whether by coercion or deception, or by physical or psychological duress, human persons created in the image and likeness of God are deprived of their freedom, sold and reduced to being the property of others. They are treated as means to an end.

 

Alongside this deeper cause – the rejection of another person’s humanity – there are other causes which help to explain contemporary forms of slavery. Among these, I think in the first place of poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion, especially when combined with a lack of access to education or scarce, even non-existent, employment opportunities. Not infrequently, the victims of human trafficking and slavery are people who look for a way out of a situation of extreme poverty; taken in by false promises of employment, they often end up in the hands of criminal networks which organize human trafficking. These networks are skilled in using modern means of communication as a way of luring young men and women in various parts of the world.

 

Another cause of slavery is corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain. Slave labor and human trafficking often require the complicity of intermediaries, be they law enforcement personnel, state officials, or civil and military institutions. “This occurs when money, and not the human person, is at the center of an economic system. Yes, the person, made in the image of God and charged with dominion over all creation, must be at the center of every social or economic system. When the person is replaced by mammon, a subversion of values occurs”.[5]

 

Further causes of slavery include armed conflicts, violence, criminal activity and terrorism. Many people are kidnapped in order to be sold, enlisted as combatants, or sexually exploited, while others are forced to emigrate, leaving everything behind: their country, home, property, and even members of their family. They are driven to seek an alternative to these terrible conditions even at the risk of their personal dignity and their very lives; they risk being drawn into that vicious circle which makes them prey to misery, corruption and their baneful consequences.

 

A shared commitment to ending slavery

  1. Often, when considering the reality of human trafficking, illegal trafficking of migrants and other acknowledged or unacknowledged forms of slavery, one has the impression that they occur within a context of general indifference.

 

Sadly, this is largely true. Yet I would like to mention the enormous and often silent efforts which have been made for many years by religious congregations, especially women’s congregations, to provide support to victims. These institutes work in very difficult situations, dominated at times by violence, as they work to break the invisible chains binding victims to traffickers and exploiters. Those chains are made up of a series of links, each composed of clever psychological ploys which make the victims dependent on their exploiters. This is accomplished by blackmail and threats made against them and their loved ones, but also by concrete acts such as the confiscation of their identity documents and physical violence. The activity of religious congregations is carried out in three main areas: in offering assistance to victims, in working for their psychological and educational rehabilitation, and in efforts to reintegrate them into the society where they live or from which they have come.

 

This immense task, which calls for courage, patience and perseverance, deserves the appreciation of the whole Church and society. Yet, of itself, it is not sufficient to end the scourge of the exploitation of human persons. There is also need for a threefold commitment on the institutional level: to prevention, to victim protection and to the legal prosecution of perpetrators. Moreover, since criminal organizations employ global networks to achieve their goals, efforts to eliminate this phenomenon also demand a common and, indeed, a global effort on the part of various sectors of society.

 

States must ensure that their own legislation truly respects the dignity of the human person in the areas of migration, employment, adoption, the movement of businesses offshore and the sale of items produced by slave labor. There is a need for just laws which are centered on the human person, uphold fundamental rights and restore those rights when they have been violated. Such laws should also provide for the rehabilitation of victims, ensure their personal safety, and include effective means of enforcement which leave no room for corruption or impunity. The role of women in society must also be recognized, not least through initiatives in the sectors of culture and social communications.

 

Intergovernmental organizations, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, are called to coordinate initiatives for combating the transnational networks of organized crime which oversee the trafficking of persons and the illegal trafficking of migrants. Cooperation is clearly needed at a number of levels, involving national and international institutions, agencies of civil society and the world of finance.

 

Businesses[6] have a duty to ensure dignified working conditions and adequate salaries for their employees, but they must also be vigilant that forms of subjugation or human trafficking do not find their way into the distribution chain. Together with the social responsibility of businesses, there is also the social responsibility of consumers. Every person ought to have the awareness that “purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act”.[7]

 

Organizations in civil society, for their part, have the task of awakening consciences and promoting whatever steps are necessary for combating and uprooting the culture of enslavement.

 

In recent years, the Holy See, attentive to the pain of the victims of trafficking and the voice of the religious congregations which assist them on their path to freedom, has increased its appeals to the international community for cooperation and collaboration between different agencies in putting an end to this scourge.[8] Meetings have also been organized to draw attention to the phenomenon of human trafficking and to facilitate cooperation between various agencies, including experts from the universities and international organizations, police forces from migrants’ countries of origin, transit, or destination, and representatives of ecclesial groups which work with victims. It is my hope that these efforts will continue to expand in years to come.

 

Globalizing fraternity, not slavery or indifference

  1. In her “proclamation of the truth of Christ’s love in society”,[9] the Church constantly engages in charitable activities inspired by the truth of the human person. She is charged with showing to all the path to conversion, which enables us to change the way we see our neighbors, to recognize in every other person a brother or sister in our human family, and to acknowledge his or her intrinsic dignity in truth and freedom. This can be clearly seen from the story of Josephine Bakhita, the saint originally from the Darfur region in Sudan who was kidnapped by slave-traffickers and sold to brutal masters when she was nine years old. Subsequently – as a result of painful experiences – she became a “free daughter of God” thanks to her faith, lived in religious consecration and in service to others, especially the most lowly and helpless. This saint, who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, is even today an exemplary witness of hope[10] for the many victims of slavery; she can support the efforts of all those committed to fighting against this “open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ”. [11]

 

In the light of all this, I invite everyone, in accordance with his or her specific role and responsibilities, to practice acts of fraternity towards those kept in a state of enslavement. Let us ask ourselves, as individuals and as communities, whether we feel challenged when, in our daily lives, we meet or deal with persons who could be victims of human trafficking, or when we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others. Some of us, out of indifference, or financial reasons, or because we are caught up in our daily concerns, close our eyes to this. Others, however, decide to do something about it, to join civic associations or to practice small, everyday gestures – which have so much merit! – such as offering a kind word, a greeting or a smile. These cost us nothing but they can offer hope, open doors, and change the life of another person who lives clandestinely; they can also change our own lives with respect to this reality.

 

We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself. For this reason I urgently appeal to all men and women of good will, and all those near or far, including the highest levels of civil institutions, who witness the scourge of contemporary slavery, not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity. Instead, may we have the courage to touch the suffering flesh of Christ,[12] revealed in the faces of those countless persons whom he calls “the least of these my brethren” (Mt 25:40, 45).

 

We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother? (cf. Gen 4:9-10). The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands.

 

From the Vatican, 8 December 2014

FRANCISCUS

 

 

[1] No. 1.

[2] Message for the 2014 World Day of Peace, 2.

[3] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 11.

[4] Cf. Address to Delegates of the International Association of Penal Law, 23 October 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 24 October 2014, p. 4.

[5] Address to Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements, 28 October 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 29 October 2014, p. 7.

[6] Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection, 2013.

[7] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 66.

[8] Cf. Message to Mr Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization, on the occasion of the 103rd Session of the ILO, 22 May 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 29 May 2014, p. 7.

[9] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 5.

[10] “Through the knowledge of this hope she was ‘redeemed’, no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world – without hope because without God” (BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 3).

[11] Address to Participants in the Second International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking: Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership, 10 April 2014: L’Osservatore Romano, 11 April 2014, p. 7; cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 270.

[12] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24 and 270.

 

 

From the Rector

One of the great joys of the Christmas Season is the time we spend with one another – families and friends gathered together, not just to have a good time, but to pray together and to remember the things that make families strong and secure.

It is very important that we do this, for during the year, as everyone knows from personal experience, there are many times when the peace and unity of families are tested.

Young children growing up face all kind of challenges, and if their parents do not provide the proper parental guidance, direction and the encouragement they need, then chances are the children will look elsewhere, which has the potential for trouble.

And our older people – our parents and grandparents, who have given us so much, and who we love and care for so deeply – can make demands on us.  And if we let ourselves become angry or bitter about the care we are obliged to give them out of love and respect, then great unhappiness can result, and again trouble enters our family, and our peace begins to unravel.

What about husbands and wives? When you look upon the joy that Christmas brings to the faces of your children, and when you see the happiness that your own elderly mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts are able to feel, taking part in the celebrations you have made possible, by your work and by your constant attention, then you are touched to the depths of your souls, and grateful for this warmth that Christmas brings. But you also know very well that during the rest of the year, the challenges, the problems, the trials you will face are many indeed.

These troubles that we all experience in varying degrees are not anything to be ashamed about.  As a matter of fact they are quite natural – they come from our imperfect human natures.  Each of us suffers from the same problems that drove Adam and Eve apart from God the Father.  But if we are to overcome these problems, then we must learn to take an active part in the plan that God has made for each one of us – the plan that make us a part of the loving care that He sent to us when God sent us His Son, our Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ who teaches us and reminds us through His Church how to love one another, how to bear with the problems of life, how to get on with winning our salvation, and steering those we must help in the direction of God’s peace.

On this Feast of the Holy Family, the Church asks us to pray about these things, and to remember the best family that ever walked on earth – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And even though Mary and Joseph were specially blessed by God, and even though Jesus shared with His Father, heavenly perfection, they all encountered great problems here on earth, and we should not think that they escaped the same difficulties that face us.

St. Joseph, though he hardly speaks in the pages of Scripture, is still for us a figure of great strength and courage. And Mary, who can really and truly know and understand the depth of her courage and love? And we see on this Feast at the heart of the Holy Family the baby Jesus, who already has a heart filled with love for all men and women – for each one of us! Though an infant in a manger, already His being was filled with the love that would lead Him to the greatest of sacrifices – laying down His life for us, and rising to new life so that we might have in our own hearts hope for glory.

Dear friends, as we think about Jesus, Mary and Joseph on this their feast as a family,  and as we quickly approach a new year, let us pray for ourselves and for our own families, that with the help of these three persons, each of us may face the difficulties and challenges of daily life and bring to all our problems the spirit that we feel today – the spirit of caring and loving for one another, just as they cared for one another, and loved each other to the end and beyond.

I pray that each of you and your families may enjoy God’s abundant gift of love, so that the coming year of 2015 will be filled with many joys, blessings, prosperity, good health, and peace.  I am,

 

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Very Rev. Michael J. Lumpe

Rector, Saint Joseph Cathedral

Pastor, Holy Cross Church

Vicar for Priests, Diocese of Columbus

From the Rector

AS WE CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, we sing “Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’ ” For it was the angels who first came to those who were humble and ready to receive and serve the newborn King – Christ the King who was born in poverty, and whose parents, Joseph and Mary, could find no room in the inn; Christ who was born in a manger made for feeding animals. God sent His Son, Jesus, to blaze the path of humbleness, love and peace in this world as the Good Shepherd and King who would lay down His life for our sake and for our salvation. Many ask, on this day in particular, why was it necessary for the Word of God to become flesh? The child Jesus, conceived Mary’s womb, the fulfillment of all God’s promises, was named “Jesus” which means “the Lord saves.” And what would Jesus save us from?  Matthew’s Gospel makes this abundantly clear – “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God sent His Son into the world because we needed a Savior who could reconcile us with God. Remember, it was our ancestors in the Old Testament who bore the image of God and yet disregarded God, who gave God inadequate attention, who mistreated each other, who institutionalized injustice, and who (conveniently or otherwise) misunderstood the laws and commands of God. Even though God spoke through the Prophets, our ancestors persisted in living their misguided ways. So Love and Truth personified – the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ – came into the world to save us from our all too human ways, and to follow the divine way – the light of Christ leading us and illuminating a path of salvation in a dark and sinful world. Throughout the ages Christians have professed this salvific truth in the Nicene Creed: “For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” And Christ, the light of the world, was among the children of God – His brothers and sisters – teaching right from wrong, teaching how to live one’s life as children of God, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, to simply reflect love of God and love of neighbor in one’s thoughts, words and actions. And yet our ancestors crucified Christ on the cross; Christ undertook this great sacrifice for our sake.  Jesus, the eternal Word of Truth, Love and Light, became flesh for us so that He could offer His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world through the shedding of His blood on the cross! The Word became flesh to show each of us the infinite love and tender mercy of God for us sinners. God raised his Son from the dead, so that we may share in His eternal life. God wants to fill our hearts with true and lasting joy as we show our gratitude for the greatest gift He could possibly give us – His beloved Son. Let us adore Him by embracing the way, the truth and the life of Christ, and “Be doers of the Word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).  Folks, the joy of Christmas is not just for one day or one season – it is an eternal joy experienced by those who listen to Him, humble ourselves before Him, embrace Him, and follow Him. May all of us experience this life of true joy, peace, happiness and contentment in Christ beginning today.  From all of us…Blessings for a Merry Christmas!

 

  • OF NOTE… Please join me in thanking all who cleaned and decorated our two churches so beautifully for Christmas, our musicians and choirs for their added work and preparation, our various ministers and servers, and all who dedicated their time and God-given talents to making this Christmas a truly joyous day of celebration!

December 21, 2014 – From the Rector

 

 

ON THIS FOURTH AND LAST SUNDAY OF THE ADVENT SEASON we would all do well to pause and reflect on what we have accomplished during these past weeks in preparation for what we will celebrate this week – the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And as we draw nearer to this celebration, we find that in order to bring true and lasting joy and peace to others, we have to bring them Christ. Jesus is the greatest gift that we can ever bring to someone we love. This is something we all have to remember especially at Christmas. We can buy people all types of gifts – and giving gifts is a sign of our love and affection for others – this is a wonderful tradition, especially when kept in check.  But the greatest gift we can bring them is Jesus Christ.  If we aren’t trying to give them the Lord Jesus, then we’re really giving them only mere things which bring short-lived joy and fleeting happiness. We can send out a thousand cards and letters, but of lasting value are our prayers for others that they come to the Lord and help them to encounter Jesus and to draw into a deeper relationship Christ our Savior. Unless we try to bring Christ to them, we’re really not giving them anything of true value, anything that will truly last. Mary didn’t bring Elizabeth ancient Hebrew pregnancy text-books; she wasn’t bringing John the Baptist a cute little outfit; she was bringing Christ and, hence, she was bringing them everything – Mary was bringing them Jesus Christ.  And Mary wants us to learn from her example and inspire us to bring her Son to others this Advent. We all know people who need Christ in their lives, who need his forgiveness, who hunger for his love and his presence, perhaps without even knowing it. But many of us perhaps are spiritual Ebenezer Scrooges, keeping our relationship with Jesus completely to ourselves, and not wanting to share the Lord with anyone else. Mary’s example shows us the way to live Advent and Christmas well and explicitly challenges and calls us to bring Jesus to our family members, relatives, friends, fellow parishioners, co-workers, neighbors, and to those we know who are in need. We know from experience that the greatest blessings in this world are Jesus Christ and our faith in Him. These are the gifts we should be longing for this Christmas, because these are the ones that will make us truly and genuinely happy. Even if we were to receive the entire inventory of any shopping center for Christmas, that would not be as valuable to us as the gift of God and the gift of increased faith in Him.

 

OF NOTE:

I want to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Paul Thornock and the members of the Cathedral Choir and Cathedral Chamber Orchestra who provided a spiritually moving and musically uplifting Advent Lessons and Carols last Sunday.  My thanks to all who read the lessons, volunteered and participated in a variety of ways for in doing so, they made this an inviting occasion for a standing-room-only crowd in our Cathedral.

 

I want to express my sincere thanks again to all who already have or will be volunteering their time and talents to make this Advent a special time for everyone here in our parish — and throughout the year for that matter — especially those participating in and coordinating the “Giving Tree” program; all persons involved in various ministries and parish committees; all volunteers who help distribute food to the poor and needy at the Cathedral Rectory each day and at Saint Lawrence Haven on the grounds of Holy Cross; those who were cleaning and preparing Holy Cross in anticipation of re-opening last Sunday after the interior renovation; those who cleaned the Cathedral this past week for Christmas; those who will be involved this week in decorating Holy Cross and the Cathedral so beautifully for Christmas; all who will assist in the liturgies in so many ways; all who were involved in the special programs; and all who spent additional time in prayer and in preparation for the Birth of Jesus. As a token of our thanks, everyone who has served in any ministerial capacity, or who has served in any volunteer capacity or on any committee in the Holy Cross and Cathedral parishes, is invited after Mass to pick up a gift of our appreciation for helping to make both Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cathedral what they are – true parish families. Gifts can be picked up this weekend at Holy Cross in the Sacristy after Masses, and on the first floor of the Cathedral parish offices after Masses.  It is my sincere and greatest hope and desire, and that of Bishop Campbell, Bishop Griffin (retired), Father Noble, Father Hilary, Fr. Augustine, Dcn. Gorski, Dcn. Johnston, Sister Anne, and the entire staff at Holy Cross and the Cathedral that you and your family members may have a safe, joyous, blessed, spirit-filled and Merry Christmas!

 

~ The Nativity of the Lord, Mass and Concert schedule, December 24 and 25 ~

 

Christmas Eve, December 24:

  • 3:30 p.m. Holy Cross Choir Concert
  • 4:00 p.m. Masses at Holy Cross and the Cathedral
  • 6:00 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral
  • 11:00 p.m. Cathedral Choir Concert followed by 12:00 Midnight Mass

Christmas Day, December 25:

  • 10:00 a.m. Masses at Holy Cross and the Cathedral