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Diocesan eNews

Readings at Mass offer God's 'real-time' help, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Listening to the Scripture readings at Mass is hearing God speak directly to His people, offering spiritual sustenance and needed guidance for life's difficult journey, Pope Francis said. For that reason, the prescribed texts should never be skipped or substituted during the Mass, lectors should read clearly and people should always listen with an open heart so that the words may eventually bear fruit in good deeds, the pope said at his weekly general audience Jan. 31. Continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the Liturgy of the Word and the importance of listening to the Bible readings at Mass. "In the Liturgy of the Word, in fact, the pages of the Bible stop being something written and become the living word, delivered by God himself," the pope said. As the readings are proclaimed, people in the pews should be silent and receptive, opening their hearts and minds to what is being said.
 

Men and women religious called 'witnesses' to light of Christ in world

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Consecrated men and women reflect the light of Christ and are witnesses to that light "in a world that is often shrouded in shadow," Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, said Jan. 29. "They are the glory of God's people. We pray for the perseverance of consecrated men and women and ask God to continue enriching the Church with their unique vocation," he said in a statement as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Cardinal Tobin's statement came in advance of the annual celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It will be celebrated in parishes the weekend of Feb. 3-4. The Feast of the Presentation also is known as Candlemas Day, when candles are blessed to symbolize Christ as the light of the world. St. John Paul II instituted the day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life in 1997.
 
 

South Korean bishop hopes Winter Olympics are steppingstone to peace

SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) -- A South Korean bishop wants the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be a steppingstone for achieving peace in the region, reported ucanews.com. Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, president of the Korean bishops' Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, released a statement hoping "the Olympics, feast of peace, will be a turning point to reduce the uneasiness and to settle peace on the peninsula." North Korea is sending a large team of athletes and an art company to the Olympics, which start Feb. 9. Bishop Lee of Uijeongbu, which borders North Korea, said: "North Korea's participation is meaningful as it is a step forward to a new era of peace by ending the long-lasting struggles. As Pope Francis stresses, we should welcome North Korean delegates based on fraternity full of love. "We should make hay while the sun shines. We need to see this precious opportunity as a chance for coexistence and a new era where future generations freely go and come between the two Koreas."
 

Pro-life leaders decry Senate failure to pass 20-week abortion ban

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York decried the Senate's failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, and called on senators to "rethink" their stance on late-term abortions. The cardinal, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the vote "appalling" in a statement released Jan. 29. "The Senate's rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans," the statement added. Although the bill received 51 votes, under Senate rules it needed 60 votes to end debate and move to a final vote. Three Democrats joined 48 Republicans in supporting the measure. The final vote was 51-46.

Pope accepts resignation of New Hampshire auxiliary bishop

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian of Manchester, New Hampshire. The bishop, who is vicar general and vicar for priest personnel, is 75, the age at canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. His resignation was announced in Washington Feb. 1 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. St. John Paul II appointed then-Msgr. Christian as auxiliary bishop for the statewide Manchester Diocese April 2, 1996, and he was ordained a bishop May 14, 1996, at St. Joseph Cathedral by Bishop Leo E. O'Neil, then head of the diocese. The statewide Diocese of Manchester covers just over, 9,300 square miles. Out of a total population of 1.33 million, about 255,000, or 19 percent, are Catholic.
 

Soup dinner and no dessert? Valentine's Day Ash Wednesday-style

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Many people looking at their February calendars are doing a double-take with Ash Wednesday falling on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. The two days, steeped in tradition, don't have too much in common beyond their religious roots. Valentine's Day, named after St. Valentine, a third-century martyr, is all about romance with its emphasis on cards, candy, flowers and nice dinners, where Ash Wednesday takes a more somber tone as the start of 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent. Ash Wednesday also is one of two days, along with Good Friday, that are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholic adults — meaning no eating meat and eating only one full meal and two smaller meals. In other words, not a day for consuming candy hearts, chocolate cakes or fancy steak dinners. And for those who wonder if Catholic bishops might grant a dispensation from the day's fasting requirements, as they sometimes have with the no meat rule when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday in Lent, they should probably think again. Some already have said they won’t grant a dispensation, suggesting Valentine's Day be celebrated on another "non-penitential day," maybe even Feb. 13, Mardi Gras.
 

Guidelines for Lent

• The time of Lent is to be observed by Catholics as a special season of prayer, penance and works of charity.
• Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, in particular, are the most important penitential days of the liturgical year. They are days of both fast and abstinence. All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence.
• The rule of fasting states that only one full meal a day can be taken. Two small meals, “sufficient to maintain strength,” are allowed, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals breaks the fast, but drinking liquids does not. The rule of fasting obliges all Catholics from 18 to 59.
• Abstinence refers to the eating of meat. The common estimation of the community is used to determine what falls under the category of meat. The rule of abstinence binds all Catholics 14 years or older.
• The substantial observance of the laws of fast and abstinence is a serious obligation.
• Self-imposed fasting on the other weekdays of Lent is recommended. Abstinence on all Fridays of the year is also highly recommended.
• Parents and teachers should see to it that, even those who are not bound by the laws of fast and abstinence because of age, are brought up in an atmosphere that is conducive to a sense of penance.
 

Children as ‘Neighbor’

By Father Thomas Mattison, pastor of Christ our Savior Parish in Manchester Center and Arlington
 
Charles Dickens did a world of good by bringing the plight of Victorian children to the forefront of everyone’s consciousness; Tiny Tim, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Pip were real-life characters somewhere in that world. There they were seen and treated as tools and opportunities for unscrupulous and grasping grownups.
 
But the swing of the pendulum went a degree or two too far – children suddenly became sentimentalized. When people like Churchill and W.C. Fields and Cardinal Newman had slighting things to say about the beauty, cuteness and innocence of children (respectively) they were pretty well tut-tutted as curmudgeons and misanthropes.
 
This sentimentalizing of children is at the root of such things as the currently popular “right to a child” at any cost. You would think that a child were a new car or a better phone, to which one might also have a right, especially the thousands of frozen embryos whose ownership is often the sticking point of divorces and whose maintenance is an ongoing burden to “medical” facilities who feel unfree to destroy these children that no one wants anymore. At the same time, the right to have a child has led to opposite assertion of the right not to have a child – even to abort a child already conceived.
 
Dickens should have lived longer and written as persuasively of the plight of the child of the 21st century!
 
My description of a child as a “neighbor” who must be loved according to the second great commandment may seem cold and distant. But let us be clear that the “neighbor” of that law has an absolute right to life, to respect, to support, to hospitality according to his status and my ability. Imagine if those neighbor-rights were to be asserted and vindicated for every child in the world!
 
With respect to the neighbor, every other person has the obligation that is summarized in the term “Good Samaritan.” Imagine how differently the world would treat children if this commandment were made civil law.
 
Children, in Christian thought, are not a distinct class of persons; nor is childhood a defined state. They are, instead, persons with the same needs, the same rights and the same duties as everyone else. Like everyone else, they require support, education and encouragement in the use and realization of these things. Clearly, these requirements fall most fully and primarily upon the family; but the larger society, too, has a responsibility for and an interest in the development of its future citizens.
 
Roe v. Wade legalized the anti-sentimental view of children. This was wrong. But sentiment can easily turn children into slaves of parental emotions as much as
Dickensian youth were slaves of a societal economy.
 
This is wrong.
 
Children are our nearest and neediest neighbors. One day they will be our most valuable and constructive neighbors. But they will always be people to be loved —
and love other neighbors.
 
For more about Father Mattison’s parish, go to christoursaviorvt.com.
 

Men’s conference

ESSEX JUNCTION—The first Catholic Men’s Conference in the Diocese of Burlington will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Holy Family Parish Hall, 28 Lincoln St.
 
What does it mean to be a Catholic man of faith today? How can I be a good husband, father, son, brother and man that the Lord is calling me to be? Growing numbers of men have been coming together to reflect, to learn, to pray, to be inspired on these important questions and to be strengthened to live out their faith in their families and in the wider world.
 
Dr. Ray Guarendi will be the keynote presenter. He is a father of 10, clinical psychologist, author, professional speaker and national radio and television host. In addition, Father Tim Naples of the Diocese of Burlington and author of “You Are That Man,” will speak on male spirituality. David Allbee, husband, father and teacher will offer practical tips and advice.
 
Pope Francis in his document on family life, “The Joy of Love” offers some strong words of encouragement to men. In this diocesan “Year of the Family,” this is an opportunity for men to become the Catholic men of faith that they are called to be.
 
For more information and registration, go to vermontcatholic.org/men.
 

Young Adult Retreat

NEWARK--A Young Adult Retreat is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. through Sunday, Feb. 25, at 3:30 p.m. at the Mary Theotokos Monastic Retreat Center. Father Lance Harlow, rector of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington, will lead the retreat. The cost is $40 per participant, which includes food and lodging. The retreat is open to young adults ages 18 and older.
 
The retreat will offer talks, times for discussion, activities and Mass as well as other opportunities for personal, spiritual growth.
 
Registration can be done through Constant Contact (linked through the diocesan
webpage) or by calling 802-658-6110, ext. 1240; use ext. 1130 for more information.
 
 
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