Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Life" is Precious!

Saginaw's "Marchers" for Life

After all is said and done, this year's March for Life was a powerful witness to the dignity of all human persons.  Too bad, the mainstream media gave it little if any attention. 
Mass at the Basilica

It was the first time we were able to attend this event as a religious community.  We loaded 8 buses from the Saginaw Diocese filled with young people showing love of faith, country and humanity. Our Bishop, Joseph Cistone, travelled with us and offered the first Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday morning, Jan. 22nd.  Many other Masses followed as catholic youth poured into Washington D.C.  Sunday evening, began a night vigil of prayer which found the Basilica packed.  Prayers were offered for families, friends, citizens of our great country, the confused, the ignorant, for all in need of love and respect.  We especially prayed for our leaders, that they work for the protection of all human persons from conception until natural death. 

The closing vigil Mass was offered by Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan.  Although the weather was wet and cold, close to 400,000 people from all walks of life, and all faiths, joined together to peacefully march toward the Supreme Court.  One person reported standing on the steps of the building for over two hours as the marchers streamed by. Even though the media tried to silence this statement for Life, it cannot silence what is in the heart of so many people.  Each year the March for Life is the largest demonstration held in Washington DC.  There was a tremondous feeling of joy to see so many concerned over the real issues in our country.
Gathering to begin the March
Only eight days earlier it was announced that the Obama administration would soon mandate that every employer, religious included, provide  “reproductive services” for their employees.
That very day, Cardinal-designate and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Timothy Dolan, commented that “never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.”  He went on to say that this should not happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.  Cardinal elect Dolan urged the faithful to “let your elected leaders know that you want religious liberty and rights of conscience restored and that you want the administration's contraceptive mandate rescinded.”
The USCCB website has provided a way that you can contact your representatives.  Go to their website.  And remember to pray for our countries' leaders!

The following website will best show the crowds that were present in Washington DC for the March for Life.  My thanks to Kathryrn Lopez.  Follow this link!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CHRISTIAN UNITY REQUIRES INDIVIDUAL CONVERSION

Today we end the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Holy Father gave the following address at his Wednesday Audience, in case you missed it, here is a copy.

VATICAN  CITY, 25 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this  morning's general audience to Christ's priestly prayer during the Last  Supper, as narrated in chapter 17 of the Gospel of St. John. In order to  understand this prayer "in all its immense richness", said the  Pope, it is important to see it in the context of the Jewish feast of  atonement, Yom Kippur, in which the high priest seeks atonement first for  himself, then for the order of priests and finally for the community as a  whole. Likewise, "that night Jesus addressed the Father at the moment in  which He offered Himself. He, priest and victim, prayed for Himself, for the  Apostles and for all those who would believe in Him".
The prayer which Jesus prays for Himself is the request for His own  glorification. "It is in fact more than a request", the Holy Father  said, "it is a declaration of willingness to enter freely and generously  into the Father's plan, which is accomplished through death and resurrection.  ... Jesus begins His priestly prayer by saying: 'Father, the hour has come;  glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you'. The glorification Jesus  seeks for Himself, as High Priest, is to be fully obedient to the Father, an  obedience which leads Him to fulfil His filial status: 'So now, Father,  glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence  before the world existed'".
The second part of Jesus' prayer is His intercession for the disciples who  have followed Him, and His request that they may be sanctified. Jesus says:  'They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  Sanctify them in the truth'. Benedict XVI explained how "To sanctify  means to transfer something - a person or an object - to God. This involves  two complementary aspects: on the one hand, the idea of 'segregation' ...  from man's personal life in order to be completely given over to God; on the  other hand there is the idea of 'being sent out', of mission. Having been  given to God, the consecrated thing or person exists for others. ... A person  is sanctified when, like Jesus, he is segregated from the world, set aside  for God in view of a task and, for this reason, available for everyone. For  disciples this means continuing Jesus' mission".
 In the third phase of the priestly prayer, "Jesus asks the Father to  intervene in favour of all those who will be brought to the faith by the  mission inaugurated by the Apostles. ... 'I ask not only on behalf of these,  but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word'. ...  Jesus prays for the Church in all times, He also prays for us. ... The main  element in Jesus' priestly prayer for His disciples is His request for the  future unity of those who will believe in Him. This unity is not a worldly  achievement. It derives exclusively from divine unity and comes down to us  from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit".
  By this priestly prayer Jesus establishes the Church, "which is nothing  other than the community of disciples who, through their faith in Christ as  the One sent by the Father, receive His unity and are involved in Jesus'  mission to save the world by leading it to a knowledge of God".
 Benedict XVI invited the faithful to read and meditate upon Jesus priestly  prayer, and to pray to God themselves, asking Him "to help us enter  fully into the plan He has for each of us. Let us ask Him to consecrate us to  Himself, that we may belong to Him and show increasing love for others, both  near and far. Let us ask Him to help us open our prayers to the world, not  limiting them to requests for help in our own problems, but remembering our  fellow man before the Lord and learning the beauty of interceding for others.  Let us ask Him for the gift of visible unity among all those who believe in  Christ, ... that we may be ready to respond to anyone who asks us about the  reasons for our hope".

 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18-25, originally conceived by Father Paul Wattson of Graymoor.  He wanted this week to reflect the unchanging truth that there can be no real unity apart from union with that Rock, established by Christ Himself, which is Peter and his successors.  This years' Ecumenical Service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012 comes to us from Poland. An ecumenical group, composed of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, Old Catholic and Protestant Churches active in Poland, wrote a liturgy that draws on the experience of Polish Christians who have lived through times of joy and adversity.  The history of Poland has been marked by defeats, victories, invasions, and oppressions, their constant striving to overcome all enslavement and the desire to establish freedom.

The service takes as its theme 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 which speaks of the transformative power of faith in Christ.  As we pray for and strive towards the full visible unity of the church -  we and the traditions to which we belong - will be changed, transformed and conformed to the likeness of Christ.  The unity for which we pray is not merely a "comfortable" notion of friendliness and co-operation.  It requires a willingness to dispense with competition between us.  We need to open ourselves to each other, to offer gifts to and receive gifts from one another, so that we might truly enter into the new life in Christ, which is the only true victory.

As we were making our Eucharistic Holy Hour yesterday praying these prayers for Christian Unity, it became clear to me what a special blessing it is to have the March for Life coincide with this week of Prayer.  To transform ourselves into the likeness of Christ, needs to be a way of life that integrates all christians around the service of God and one's neighbor.  Should it not then find expression in protecting life, giving evidence to the dignity of all people?  It is God's plan "that all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they may be one in us." (Jn 17:21)

Join with the Body of Christ in praying that Our Lord's plan for the unity of all christians will be fulfilled, and join us in supporting Life by praying for the end of abortion in our country, that the dignity of all may take priority.