Friday, December 21, 2012

Five Things To Remember on Dec. 21

         1. The Newtown tragedy reminds us that it’s time to address the culture of death that is perpetuated by the extraordinary violence we inflict on one another, even within our own families. This violence is seen in the proliferation of video games and other sources of “entertainment” that glamorize violence; in our underlying cultural values—the denial of right and wrong, a growing focus on selfish desires and a diminishing sense of obligation—that contribute to a violent environment; and in the hopelessness and despair of so many who live in poverty.

2       2. Do you think of your marriage as a vocation, a call from God? It’s true. In their pastoral message on marriage, Love and Life in the Divine Plan, the U.S. Bishops say: “As a vocation, marriage is just as necessary and valuable to the Church as other vocations."

        3.     The U.S. Catholic bishops’ opposition to national health care legislation mandating contraception coverage was ranked the No. 1 Religion Story of 2012 by members of the Religion Newswriters Association. Related to the top story, the top religion newsmaker was Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who became the point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Obamacare.  

        4.     What’s Christmas really about? Paulist Father Larry Ricve offers some ideas in an easy from the Four Your Marriage website.

        5.     God loves you.

        NOTE: “Five Things” takes a break for Christmas but will be back early in 2013. A blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Five Things To Remember On Dec. 20

1.      Peacemakers love, defend, promote life, pope said in World Day of Peace message.  . The message for January 1, 2013, was released by the Vatican Dec. 14. True peacemakers defend human life at every stage of its existence and promote the common good through their economic policies and activities, the pope said. Attacks on human dignity and human rights – from abortion and euthanasia to limits on religious freedom, and from religious fanaticism to "unregulated financial capitalism" – undermine efforts to bring peace to the world. True peacemakers, he said, "are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions." He added, "Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life." The text of the pope's message in English can be found online at: and in Spanish at

2.      Today is the fourth day of the O Antiphons. Read the prayers and listen to a podcast for this day.

3.      Pope Benedict sent two tweets yesterday. "Mary is filled with joy on learning that she is to be the mother of Jesus, God’s Son made man. True joy comes from union with God." And “Everyone’s life of faith has times of light, but also times of darkness. If you want to walk in the light, let the word of God be your guide." Follow Pope Benedict at @Pontifex.

5.      God loves you.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Five Things To Remember on Dec. 19

1.      The fiscal cliff concerns Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard Pates, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace. They wrote to Congress Dec.14 to urge it to develop a bipartisan and balanced agreement that raises adequate revenue and protects programs that serve families living in poverty. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says proper role of government to “make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on” (no. 1908). The bishops’ criteria: Protect human life and dignity; the needs of the poor and vulnerable come first; and government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all.

2.      Today is the fifth day of the O Antiphons. Read the prayers and listen to a podcast for this day.
3.      What equipped Msgr. Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Parish in New Town, Connecticut, to console the nation? Seminary formation and grace.

4.      Movie fans may enjoy Les Miserables. Says Catholic News Service’s Media Review office: “This rousing entertainment offers something for everyone: soaring anthems, tear-jerking romance, thrilling drama – and a positive portrayal of the Catholic faith. In fact, this faithful adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel, which was transformed into a worldwide stage sensation by impresario Cameron Mackintosh, is a deeply moral story. Characters rise and fall calling on God for grace and mercy, seeking personal redemption while trying to better the lives of others.” The film contains scenes of bloody violence, a prostitution theme, and nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
5.      God loves you.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Msgr. Weiss: He was there

He was there.

Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, Connecticut, went quickly to the scene of the Dec. 14 school massacre. There were the bodies of 20 little children, six staff and the 20-year-old perpetrator who killed them and then himself.

            And from that moment on and for days to come, Msgr. Weiss became the face of compassion to victims’ families, to parishioners, townspeople, and, through the media, the entire world. He and other clergy said nothing had prepared them to deal with such a situation, but they may be wrong.

            Msgr. Weiss knew that by right of baptism and later ordination, he must bring Christ’s presence to the world, especially in troubled times. He had to eschew anger for caring, point to hope amidst near despair, and give a reason to live to some who felt their reason for living lay dead. Often he had to do so without words.

            As God’s representative, Msgr. Weiss came from the only world that offered consolation. People attended Mass in search of comfort. For memorial and funeral Masses, Scripture guided him.

            When it comes to the human encountering the divine, nothing matches a Catholic funeral. It stands out at the final commendation of the deceased. “May the angels lead you into Paradise,” the Church prays. “May the martyrs greet you at your arrival and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem….” The teaching that “life is not ended but changed” lets children, parents, brothers, sisters and friends know they will see their loved one again.

            Msgr. Weiss became psychologist and counselor. Leave the Christmas lights on, he advised families who asked what to do. “I saw 20 new stars in the sky tonight,” he said evoking a human image at an overflow Mass the night of the crime.

            The grace of the moment, that special gift of God, was with Msgr. Weiss. And so was six-to eight years of training before ordination. Early in his priesthood he likely labored beside seasoned priests, learning the trade and crafting his own distinctive pastoral style.

Seminaries are intense, a fish bowl-like experience in a close-knit community, where praying, studying and eating together taught him about the human condition. Spiritual directors and formation directors pushed and pulled him to articulate his inner life, called him to greater accountability and comforted him when he struggled. 

Seminary and the first years of priestly ministry are a steep immersion into the depths of one’s own humanity followed by an immersion into the depths of others.’ And it is always filtered through the lens of faith. Seminarians face queries about how they feel at the death of someone dear? How has the grieving process been? How do they feel when a friend leaves the seminary? How do they deal with the loss? And how do Christ and the seminarian’s faith help him with each of those? This is the undertow of seminary life, where academic training is but a part.

And then it happens, an unconscionable act of violence. Perhaps he remembered from his training in visiting hospitals and nursing homes: the ministry of presence, where sometimes the most soothing ministry is just being there. Sometimes words can get in the way and people just need to know that everything has not evaporated, that there is still someone to lean on, that even if they don’t see the working of faith in this moment, then perhaps another does. 

Sometimes a priest can draw on the words of Christ and sometimes he simply stands as a presence to show God is not absent.

Msgr. Weiss, whatever his previousl experience with grief and struggle, and whether or not he had been tested in the fire of faith, at Newtown stood as a presence and image of that faith for others.

Perhaps it was grace, or training, or both that let Msgr. Weiss touch souls across the nation this week. For right from the start, like Jesus, he was there.


Note: Contributing to this was Father Daniel Merz, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Divine Worship.

Five Things To Remember On Dec. 18

1.       With the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut Dec. 14, families will have to address young children’s concerns for violence. The National Association of School Psychologists offers help to deal with this.
2.       As funerals for children slain in Newtown begin, some will find comfort in the church’s prayers at the funerals for baptized children.

3.       Today is the fourth day of the O Antiphons. Read the prayers and listen to a podcast for this day.
4.       There’s nothing like a good pastor as everyone has seen watching Msgr. Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Parish in New Town, Connecticut. Seen on television, through his pastoral presence to families and the town of Newtown, he has been a comfort well beyond the Connecticut borders.
5.       God loves you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Five Things To Remember On Dec. 17

1. Child advocacy, health, parents, privacy, and consumer organizations wrote Dec. 13 to urge the Federal Trade Commission’s to update its rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The act protects children’s privacy and lets parents decide how their children will interact with companies on the Internet, and creates a clear set of principles and practices that have guided the development of the online children’s marketing industry. The letter says the need for rule changes is urgent since they address techniques that are swiftly becoming commonplace, including: “cookies” and other “persistent identifiers” for following a child online, mobile and geo-location tracking, facial recognition software, and behavioral advertising. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is among the signees.

2.  The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, underscores the prevalence of violence in society. All need to address this culture of violence in contemporary society.
3. The O Antiphons begin today. The Roman Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since at least theeighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.
4. Want to increase your chances for marital success and long-term happiness? Try religion! Research shows the benefits that come from shared religious practices, even though the couple may be of different religions. The rate of satisfaction in marriage is higher for husbands and wives when both regularly maintain religious attendance and feel that God is the center of their marriage. (The State of Our Unions 2011)
5.  God loves you.




Thursday, December 13, 2012

Five Things to remember Dec. 14

1.      Poverty-focused international assistance makes up less than one percent of the U.S. federal budget and this little bit of funding saves millions of lives around the world. It would be immoral to try to resolve our nation's fiscal issues and long-term deficit by cutting programs that save lives. 

2.      Sunday, December 16 is the third Sunday of Advent. It is called "Gaudete" Sunday (coming from the first word of the Latin Entrance Antiphon for this day, meaning "Rejoice") and the liturgical color may be rose instead of purple. This is the Church's way of further heightening our expectation as we draw ever nearer the Solemnity of Christmas.

3.      About 33 million Catholics who do not go to Mass each week attend Christmas services. How’s that for family getting together for the holidays? The Church’s thrust on evangelization urges Catholics to better knowtheir faith and to reach out to others with the Good News of the Gospel. Christmas provides one opportunity.

4.      The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has two Facebook pages, one in English   and in Spanish where visitors can share thoughts on the church.

5.      God loves you.

Five Things To Remember On Dec. 13

1.      Still pondering what to buy for that difficult family member? Catholic Relief Services (CRS) works with fair trade programs and projects overseas to help communities overcome poverty globally. Support CRS fair trade through your Christmas gift purchase.

2.      Challenges of marriage, big and small, face all couples. Quick tips for maintaining a healthy marriage can be found on

3.      Pope Benedict’s foray into the Twitter world yesterday was a success. He’s got a lot of followers on Twitter (one million at last count) though his fan base on Twitter is way behind Justin Bieber’s 31 million.

4.      Talk of the fiscal cliff continues between President Obama and Speaker of the House Boehner. Point to Consider: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor. The U.S. bishops have spoken clearly on budget concerns. 

5.      God Loves you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Five Things to Remember for Dec. 12

1. If you wonder if there’s a reason to be concerned about religious liberty, note this. The FBI released its 2011 Hate Crime Statistics report December 10. It cites 1,233 incidents motivated by religious bias: 771, anti-Jewish; 157, anti-Islamic; 67, anti-Catholic; 44, anti-Protestant; and 4, anti-Atheist or Agnostic. Another 130 incidents involved bias against other religions. In 2011, crimes motivated by religious bias were the third most frequent category of hate crimes, after racial bias, (2,917 incidents), and bias based on sexual orientation (1,293 incidents).

2. There’s much to be glad about when it comes to pastoral ministry in the United States. “Perspectives from Parish Leaders: U.S. Parish Life and Ministry” reports that while there were 64,970 diocesan priests, permanent deacons and lay ecclesial ministers in 1992, there were 81,870 of them in 2010.

3. Pope Benedict XVI launched his Twitter account today @ pontifex. A great way for Catholics and others to go straight to the Holy See.

4. Today is Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is a great celebration for Hispanics who comprise a growing part of the U.S. church community.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Five Things to Remember for Dec. 11

1.   The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is tomorrow, December 12. As the patroness of the Americas the Virgin of Guadalupe holds special meaning for people in the United States. Download a special prayer card to celebrate this feast and petition for regard for religious liberty.

2.  After setting up the Christmas tree that points upwards toward heaven, take time to bless this symbol of God’s evergreen love for us.

3.  Many believe that their odds for divorce are 50/50. But there are things couples can do to decrease the risk of a split. One study, The State of Our Unions, finds that “if you are a reasonably well-educated person with a decent income, come from an intact family and are religious, and marry after the age of 25 without having a baby first, your chances of divorce are very low indeed.”

4.  Hurricane Sandy’s devastation on the East Coast still has people out of their homes. The U.S. bishops have urged parishes to take up collections for victims of Sandy to address the needs for food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs. Collection money will go to Catholic Charities USA, the official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. Funds will go to respond to immediate emergency needs and long-term pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church.

5.  God Loves You.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Five Things to Remember on Dec. 10

1.   St. Juan Diego, whose feast was, Dec. 9, tells of thepower of the marginalized in the story of his encounter with Our Lady ofGuadalupe. One lesson from his life is that those who sometimes are marginalized orpowerless can, in spite of everything, recognize and know that God is with themand that God cares for them.

2.  As families decorate for Christmas, crèches come down from the attic and up from the basement. Setting up the manger scene is time to pause and offer a blessing. Here is one from the U.S. bishops’ Advent website. The actual blessing is found at:

3. The Supreme Court decision December 7 to hear a case challenging California’s Proposition 8 and a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is significant. In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, which defines marriage in California’s State Constitution as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law. The church  teaches that marriage is the union of one manand one woman.

4. Holiday time is movie time. Here are four recent movies classified as either A-I, good for the whole family, or A-II, for adults and adolescents, or A-III, for adults. Classifications and reviews come from Catholic News Service’s Media Review Office.

“Chasing Mavericks,” A-II
“Frankenweenie,” A-I
“Lincoln,” A-III
“Rise of the Guardians,” A-I
"Wreck-It Ralph," A-II

5.      God loves you.

El Laicado: Conciencia de la Iglesia y de la Sociedad

Bienvenidos a una de las series de los blogs sobre el Concilio Vaticano II. Cada nota examina uno de los 16 documentos producidos por los Padres del Concilio durante esa ocasión extraordinaria en la historia de la Iglesia. El Vaticano II, que unificó a los obispos del mundo, se fundó hace cincuenta años, el 11 de Octubre de 1962, en la Basílica de San Pedro.

(Photo courtesy of Catholic News Service)


Por el Obispo David Zubik


En cierto modo, el papel de los laicos en la Iglesia, tanto de hombres como de mujeres, ocupó un lugar preponderante en el Concilio Vaticano Segundo. Este papel quedó realzado en varios documentos y en un decreto, el Apostolicam Actuositatem (Actividad Apostólica), que es el Decreto sobre el Apostolado de los Laicos,” y que se centró totalmente en este tema.

El documento comienza resaltando la vocación del laico y comenta que Cristo llama a todos los bautizados a la misión de la Iglesia. Esta misión tiene dos funciones: llevar a todas las gentes a la salvación, y la renovación del mundo.  Esta misión no solo corresponde a la jerarquía, sino a todos por virtud del bautismo. 

El laicado tiene en una posición singular para ejercitar su apostolado tanto en el mundo como en la Iglesia porque está tanto en la comunidad eclesial como en la sociedad.  Por ejemplo, los Santos Padres del Concilio definieron al estado laico como “vivir en medio del mundo y de los negocios temporales”, y que “son llamados por Dios para que, fervientes en el espíritu cristiano, ejerzan su apostolado en el mundo a manera de fermento”.

El documento apuntaba que la gracia de la misa dominical va más allá de la iglesia, y exponía que el laico “es a un tiempo fiel y ciudadano”, y que “debe comportarse siempre en ambos órdenes con una conciencia cristiana”.

El decreto hacía un llamado a los laicos a vivir de manera que se viera que “son testigos de una vida cristiana” y recordaba las enseñanzas de las Escrituras: "Así ha de lucir vuestra luz ante los hombres, para que viendo vuestras buenas obras glorifiquen a vuestro Padre que está en los cielos". (Mt. 5:16)

El decreto exhorta a participar en obras de caridad,  anotando que “la misericordia para con los necesitados y enfermos y las obras de caridad y de ayuda mutua para aliviar todas las necesidades humanas, son consideradas por la Iglesia como un singular honor”.    Estos esfuerzos, dice el documento, clarifican el mandato que encontramos en Mateo 25, “cuando lo hicieron con alguno de estos más pequeños, que son mis hermanos, lo hicieron conmigo”.  El documento también le recuerda a los cristianos a ver a Dios en sus hermanos.

El decreto hace un llamado a los laicos a trabajar por la justicia, “hacer suyos, como una tarea distintiva, el trabajo de restaurar el orden temporal”.   Enfatiza el valor de la “acción social de los cristianos” y dice que “el Santo Concilio desea que se extienda hoy a todos los sectores de la vida, sin olvidar la cultura”.

Como los laicos se encuentran tanto en la comunidad eclesial como en la sociedad, están llamados a ejercer su vocación bautismal en sus comunidades parroquiales, dentro de la familia, en las comunidades en las que trabajan y viven, así como a nivel nacional e internacional.  Esta renovación del mundo se puede llevar a cabo tanto individualmente como en grupos.  Muchos laicos han encontrado apoyo a su vocación en los movimientos laicos de la Iglesia.

Desde la celebración del Vaticano II hasta hoy ha habido un inmenso crecimiento en el papel de los laicos en la Iglesia.  A veces el término “apostolado”, utilizado en todo el documento, ha sido remplazado por el de “ministerio”.  La Iglesia en los Estados Unidos, en particular, ha visto un crecimiento en el número de laicos que sirven en situaciones en las que antes solo actuaban sacerdotes y religiosos. 


El Obispo David Zubik de Pittsburgh es ex-Director del Comité sobre el Laicado, el Matrimonio, la Vida Familiar y la Juventud de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos.


The Council at 50: Laity: Conscience for Church, Society

Welcome to one of the series of blogs on the Second Vatican Council. Each piece reviews one of the 16 documents produced by the Council Fathers during the extraordinary occasion in Church history. Vatican II, which drew together the world’s bishops, opened fifty years ago in St. Peter’s Basilica, October 11, 1962.

(Photo courtesy of Catholic News Service)

In some ways, the role of lay men and women in the church drew top billing at the Second Vatican Council. Their role was highlighted in several documents, and one decree Apostolicam Actuositatem (Apostolic Activity), theDecree on the Apostolate of Lay People,” focused completely on them.

The document begins by emphasizing the vocation of the lay person and notes that Christ calls every baptized believer to the mission of the church. This mission is twofold: to bring about the salvation of all people and to renew the world. This mission does not just belong to the hierarchy; it belongs to everyone by virtue of their baptism. 

The laity stand in a unique position to carry on the Church’s mission because of their place both in the Church community and in society. The Council Fathers, for example, described the lay state as “a life led in the midst of the world and of secular affairs” and said “laymen are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a leaven in the world.”

It noted that the grace of Sunday Mass extends beyond church and said that a layman is “at one and the same time a believer and a citizen of the world,” and “has only a single conscience, a Christian conscience; it is by this that he must be guided continually in both domains.”

The decree called on lay people to live in a way that shows “the very witness of a Christian life” and recalls Scripture’s directive: “Your light must shine so brightly before people that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (Mt. 5:16)

The decree urges involvement in charitable works, noting that “mercy to the poor and the sick, and charitable works and works of mutual aid for the alleviation of all kinds of human needs, are held in special honor in the church.” Such efforts, the document says, flesh out the mandate found in Matthew 25, “whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.”  The document also reminds Christians to see their neighbors in the image of God. 

The decree calls for lay people to work for justice, “to take on themselves as their distinctive task the renewal of the temporal order.” It stresses the value of “Christian social action” and said “the council desires to see it extended today to every sector of life, not forgetting the cultural sphere.”

Because lay people are both in the Church community and in society, they are called to exercise their baptismal vocation in their parish communities, family, communities in which they live and work, as well as on the national and international level. This renewal of the world can take place individually and in groups. Many lay people have found support for their vocation through lay movements in the Church. 

Since Vatican II, there has been tremendous growth in the role of the laity within the Church. Sometimes the term “apostolate” used throughout the document has been replaced by “ministry.”  The Church in the United States, in particular, has seen a rise in the number of lay people serving where once only priests and religious were found. 


Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh is a past chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.       

Friday, December 7, 2012

Juan Diego: Evangelizing in our days

By Father Juan Molina

One of the most moving days for me during Pope John Paul II’s time was during his apostolic visit to Mexico in 2002 to proclaim Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin a saint. This wasn’t the first time a pope was proclaiming a Mexican person a saint, but this was the first time this pope was proclaiming an indigenous Mexican a saint. And that was a big deal.

One could see this was a big deal, especially when the leaders of Mexican indigenous tribes came to the altar during the mass of canonization at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, on July 31, 2002.  I was especially moved when the indigenous leaders came up at the offertory time and offered some of their dances and customs in praise of God. Here in the United States we can see the “matachines” doing something similar during the celebrations honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe in some of our parishes.

For me, the offertory procession at Mass has great significance as people, indigenous or not, “bring their gifts to the Altar to offer their first fruits and all their being to God.” The tribal leaders at Mass were that day affirming that, through Saint Mary of Guadalupe, God is with them and still cares for them.

Juanito,” little Juan as Mary called him, was at this time still proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to his people. And the pope could not look more at home at this celebration. The pope who loved Mexico so much and was so loved in return was still showing God’s love to the people of Mexico and to all those who have embraced the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

There is a lot to learn from that canonization and from John Paul II’s relationship with the Mexican people. One of the lessons I can think of is that those who sometimes are marginalized or powerless can, in spite of everything, recognize and know that God is with them and that God cares for them.

I won’t go into the details of the story of how the Virgin Mary’s apparition to Juan Diego and her request to go talk to the local bishop changed the way evangelization developed in Mexico and in the rest of Latin America.  But the striking fact from the way evangelization took place is that those who converted felt the presence of God in their own lives and in the story of their people.  Many Hispanic immigrants in the United States also share the devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of God.  Perhaps we can invoke the intercession of San Juan Diego for the many immigrants that suffer and are marginalized today.

During this time of Advent as we wait for the celebration of the coming of the Son of God, we do well in taking the example of San Juan Diego and the indigenous peoples of the Americas in waiting for the time when God will once again show His love for us.

May we also take up their challenge to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of love and life when his Mother calls us to proclaim it.        
Father Juan Molina is USCCB’s Director of the Collection for the Church in Latin America

Juan Diego: Evangelizando en nuestros días

Por Padre Juan Molina
Uno de los días que más me han conmovido fue durante la visita apostólica del Papa Juan Pablo II a México en el 2002 para proclamar santo a Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Esta no era la primera vez que un Papa proclamó santo a un mexicano, pero esta fue la primera vez que este Papa proclamó santo a un indígena mexicano santo. Y ese fue un gran evento.

Uno podía ver que ese era un gran evento especialmente cuando los líderes de las tribus indígenas mexicanas llegaron al altar durante la Misa de canonización en la Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en la Ciudad de México, el 31 de Julio del 2002. Me conmovió particularmente ver cuando lideres indígenas se acercaron en el momento del Ofertorio y ofrecieron sus danzas y vestuarios en alabanzas a Dios. Aquí en los Estados Unidos podemos ver a los “matachines” hacer actos similares durante las celebraciones que realizan algunas parroquias en honor a la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Para mi, la procesión de ofertorio durante la Misa tiene gran significado, cuando la gente, indígenas o no, “llevan las ofrendas al Altar para ofrecer sus primeros frutos y todo su ser a Dios.” Los líderes indígenas en la Misa afirmaron en ese día que a través de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, Dios está con ellos y los cuida.

Juanito,” como Maria llamaba a Juan Diego, continúa aun en este tiempo proclamando las Buenas Nuevas de Cristo Jesús. Y el Santo Padre se sintió en casa durante esta celebración.  El Papa, quien amaba a México tanto como era igualmente amado por el pueblo mexicano, continuaba mostrando el amor de Dios a los mexicanos y todos los que adoptaron la devoción por la Virgen de Guadalupe.
Hay mucho que aprender de esa canonización y de la relación de Juan Pablo II con el pueblo mexicano. Una de esas lecciones es que quienes a veces son marginalizados o carecen de influencia, pueden a pesar de todo, reconocer y saber que Dios esta con ellos y los protege. 

No detallaré la historia de como la aparición de la Virgen Maria a Juan Diego y su petición de hablar con el obispo cambió la manera en que la evangelización se desarrolló en México y el resto de América Latina. Pero lo relevante de la manera en que la evangelización se desarrolló es que quienes se convirtieron, sintieron la presencia de Dios en sus vidas y en la historia de su gente. Muchos inmigrantes hispanos en los Estados Unidos también comparten la devoción a Maria bajo el titulo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Madre de Dios. Tal vez podemos invocar la intercesión de San Juan Diego por los tantos inmigrantes e indígenas de las Américas que esperan el momento en que Dios, nuevamente, nos mostrará su amor.

Esperemos poder también escuchar el reto de proclamar la Buena Nueva del Evangelio de amor y de vida cuando su Madre nos llame a proclamarlo.
El Padre Juan Molina es director de la Colecta para la Iglesia en América Latina de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos.

Five Things to Remember on Dec. 7

1.     Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BCE, after its destruction by the Greek-Syrians, starts tomorrow, Dec. 8. Jesus observed this same celebration (cf. Jn. 10.22) as all Jews did yearly in Jerusalem. During Hanukkah, Christians are often invited into Jewish homes to share in this week-long feast, thanking God for the gift of freedom of worship – long ago and today. Information on Catholic-Jewish relations can be found at

2.     One of the warmest feasts days on the church calendar, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is on December 12. Celebrations of the feast extend throughout the entire American continent. In addition to Mass on the feast, many U.S. Latino communities pray novenas and rosaries and act out the story “Las Apariciones” (apparitions) of the Blessed Mother to the Indian Juan Diego. The Pro-Life movement has adopted her too as patron saint of the unborn. 

3.     The argument that undocumented persons should be given legal status, but not an opportunity to earn citizenship won’t fly with the U.S. bishops. “We will argue against the creation of a permanent underclass in this country, where certain parts of our population do not have the rights that others do. Our nation has been down this road before, with disastrous results,” said Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta in a Dec. 3 speech. Many persons, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have fought and died so that all persons can enjoy the full rights of citizenship, he added. “We cannot forsake this principle for the purpose of political expediency.”

4.     U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral effort to address critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer is set to begin after Christmas. The focus is to invite Catholics to pray for a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty. Components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom. 

5.     God loves you.

John Feister : Thank you, Sisters

by John Feister

I married into the Catholic sisters. It’s not that I married a Catholic sister; it’s that my sister-in-law is a Sister of Charity. And two of my sisters-in-law were in the convent (though, for their own personal reasons, they left). For that matter, my own mother’s aunt was a Catholic sister—provincial of her Ursuline community, some years back.

None of my five biological sisters entered the convent, but we all were educated at some time by Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Like a lot of older Catholics, say older than 50, vowed religious helped to shape us into the people we are. I personally went on from college to work as a lay missioner in Appalachia and the South, where I was inspired and formed by sister after sister, from a variety of religious orders, throughout young adulthood.

So imagine the scene in my house last April, when people across the land started taking pro and con sides vis a vis Catholic Sisters. It was a reaction to several Vatican investigations, which are beyond the scope of my interest here. But suddenly last April it had become, for some, open season on Sisters. 

Among coworkers at Franciscan Media, there were differences of opinion, and the fault lines seemed to be as much about age as anything. People who really didn’t know sisters, mostly younger people, were picking up notions that Sisters were somehow suspect. So I decided to write a book. 

Why not tell the stories of the many women religious who have been such model Churchwomen, who have been such an inspiration in society itself? My coworkers at Franciscan Media did me one better: Why not get a bunch of people to share stories about how women religious have shaped their lives? Maybe I could use my journalistic contacts to recruit some high-profile essayists. (But get us a manuscript within 8 weeks!)

The result is a book that’s heading into production now for release in February: Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives. (I admit it I stole the title, partially, but with permission, from my friend Jim Martin, S.J., who used the expression on Twitter and in a Washington Post op-ed piece.)

The book is a collection of 12 essays by some well-known and some less-known writers. Some are about unknown Sisters; others are about newsmakers. The essay about Amazon martyr Sister Dorothy Stang, for example, is written by Stang’s Doubleday biographer, Binka Le Breton. Award-winning journalist and special correspondent for Vanity Fair Maureen Orth contributed an essay that she first published in O magazine about a Sister working against gang violence in L.A. (Orth’s aunt was a Sister in that same community). Cokie and Steven Roberts contributed a syndicated column. Liz Scott wrote a close-up story about her close friend, Sister Helen Prejean, best known for Dead Man Walking. 

Maurice Nutt writes about our good, late friend Sister Thea Bowman; best-selling author Adriana Trigiani writes about sisters from her upbringing. Then there’s the rest of them, with great stories, if lesser known.

All things considered, I think it came out well. Oh, for the fish that got away! But we didn’t have much time. One of my favorite stories is of my friend Benedictine Sister Evelyn Dettling. Way up a mountain hollow in western Virginia, she unwittingly learned that she needed as much help from an Appalachian family as the help she had come to give them. Oops, I’m out of room! The book will be out in February.

Meanwhile, When the Retirement for Religious Collection comes the weekend of December 8-9, I’ll have a chance to say thanks.

Editor's Note: To contribute to the Retirement Fund for Religious, visit:
John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.