Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God and World Day of Peace

When celebrating today's Feast, perhaps we would do well to read the "Mary, Mother of Evangelization" section (nn. 284-288) of Pope Francis's recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.  Here's how it ends:

Mary, Virgin and Mother,,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Filled with Christ’s presence,
you brought joy to John the Baptist,
making him exult in the womb of his mother.
Brimming over with joy,
you sang of the great things done by God.
Standing at the foot of the cross
with unyielding faith,
you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
so that the evangelizing Church might be born.

Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman.

Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.

Amen. Alleluia!

Let's also remember that it is the World Day of Peace.  As we reminded you in this blog post, Pope Francis chose "Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace" as the theme this year. 

Happy new year!  May you be blessed abundantly in 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Message for World Day of Peace

Click here to read the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2014.  Entitled "Fraternity, The Foundation and Pathway to Peace," the message asks us to reflect on the unity and common destiny of the nations.  Using Genesis 4 and Matthew 23, Pope Francis invites us to consider these questions:   Can the men and women of this world ever fully respond to the longing for fraternity placed within them by God the Father? Will they ever manage by their power alone to overcome indifference, egoism and hatred, and to accept the legitimate differences typical of brothers and sisters? (n. 3).  In the busy-ness of this holiday season, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on this message.  Happy new year and happy world day of peace!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl: SOAP UP New Jersey

What is S.O.A.P. Super Bowl 2014?  The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking is partnering with S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) to help provide support to victims of human trafficking who may be in New Jersey during the upcoming Super Bowl.  They will work with volunteers to approach hotels before the Super Bowl to offer them free bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number.  It is thought that if victims find these bars of soap in hotel rooms, that they would be able to call the number and be rescued.  Between 200 and 400 volunteers are needed for this project.  Training and distribution will occur on January 25 and January 26.  Go to this site to register.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Invitation: New Jersey's Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day Observance

Join the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking at New Jersey's Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day Observance on Wednesday, January 15 from 7 to 9 pm at Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ.  Click here to access the flyer with complete details.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013: Let There Be Peace on Earth

We continue to pray for peace within and among us this Christmas.  (Email subscribers: If you do not see a video below, please click here to view the post with the embedded video.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve: Preparing to Welcome Nonviolent Love

Click here to read the Pax Christi USA reflection for Christmas Eve, in which we are invited to reflect on the dialogue among David, Nathan and God from today's first reading  (from 2 Samuel 7) and to consider that there is no need to prove ourselves before God.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Forgiveness and Compassion: 4th Sunday of Advent

From what inexhaustible well do people draw forgiveness and compassion when the unspeakable has happened to them?  Have you ever had an "Emmanuel experience" of forgiveness? 

Click here to read the Pax Christi USA reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, in which Jim Douglass considers these questions and more.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December Issue of Stop Trafficking

The December issue of Stop Trafficking -- highlighting efforts to stem sexual exploitation in the U.S. and globally --  is available here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

USCCB's Anti-Trafficking Program on CBS News

Watch the USCCB's Anti-Trafficking Program on the Religion and Culture series of CBS News on Sunday, December 15. The show's theme is "Living in the Shadows: Religion's Response to Human Trafficking."  Click here to check the time your local station will air the show, or -- after December 15 -- watch the show on the Religion and Culture website

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Does luxury compromise Christian witness?

In a recent issue of Commonweal, David Cloutier uses the recent attention given to the words and message of Pope Francis to wonder if luxury compromises Christian witness.   Click here to read his article.  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Person of the Year

Here is a brief video from Catholic News Service, reporting on Pope Francis upon the announcement of his being chosen as Time's "Person of the Year."  (E-mail subscribers:  Click here to view the video if you do not see it below.)

Attending to the "way of beauty"

"Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the “way of beauty” (via pulchritudinis). Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something
right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties.  Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus.  This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it.  If, as Saint Augustine says, we love only that which is beautiful, the incarnate Son, as the revelation of infinite beauty, is supremely lovable and draws us to himself with bonds of love.  So a formation in the via pulchritudinis ought to be part of our effort to pass on the faith.  Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new “language of parables." We must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word, and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings, including those unconventional modes of beauty which may mean little to the evangelizers, yet prove particularly attractive for others" (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 67).

Question:  Wherever and however we minister, how are we attending to the "way of beauty" as a means of "touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it?"

Monday, December 9, 2013

One Human Family, Food for All

On Tuesday, December 10, Pope Francis will help to launch a worldwide movement, sponsored by Caritas Internationalis, to end hunger through prayer and action.  The 164 Caritas Internationalis organizations in 200 countries that provide relief to those who suffer from hunger will participate. The object is to send a wave of prayer around the world by having everyone pray at noon local time.   Click here for much more information, including a link to the prayer that Caritas is asking everyone to recite at noon.

Remember, this is only the launch of the movement.  What can you do after December 10?  See the links above for more information.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy Feast Day!

Happy Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patronal Feast Day of the United States of America and titular Feast Day of the Sisters of Christian Charity, Daughters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception.  Today, Sisters of Christian Charity around the world renew their vows.  Please pray for us and with us as -- "In response to God's call" --  we strive to seek God's Will alone and give Christ's love to everyone in cheerful, wholehearted service.

Here is a portion of a prayer of Pope John Paul II as he celebrated this Feast in 2002:

"Pray, O Mother, for all of us.
Pray for humanity who suffers poverty and injustice,
violence and hatred, terror and war.
Help us to contemplate with the rosary
the mysteries of Him who "is our peace",
so that we will all feel involved
in a persevering dedication of service to peace.
Pray for us, Mother of hope!
"Give us days of peace, watch over our way.
Let us see your Son as we rejoice in heaven". Amen!"

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"His Day is Done"

Here is Dr. Maya Angelou's tribute poem to the late Nelson Mandela on behalf of the American people.  (E-mail subscribers: Click here to go to the blog post to see the video if you do not see it below.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Keep Awake

Pax Christi USA has provided a reflection for the first week of Advent, written by Darlene Pryds.  Click here to read the reflection, focusing on waiting and keeping awake.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Evangelii Gaudium

Have you begun to read Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium?  Here is an excerpt (n. 2):
The great danger in today's world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.  Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.  God's voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.  This is a very real danger for believers, too.  Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless.  That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God's will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

Go to the Vatican website to read the Letter in its entirety.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl

Why is there concern about human trafficking in preparation for Super Bowl XLVIII to be held at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, February 2, 2014?  Click on the link to open this document to learn more and to find out what the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking is doing about it.  The Sisters of Christian Charity are involved in this important effort and we encourage you to share this information with colleagues, friends, family, clergy and fellow parishioners. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Church and HIV/AIDS

Click here to read "A Continuing Crisis," an article by Jon Fuller from the December 2 issue of America, chronicling the church's global response the HIV/AIDS.  In the 32 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported and the 30 years since the causative agent of the epidemic has been identified, what has been the church's response?  Since World AIDS Day was yesterday, perhaps we can reflect on where we have been and plan where we might go in response to this still-present disease.