Monday, July 30, 2018

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

On July 30, the United Nations observes the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.  Information about this observance is available here.  Materials from the Anti-Trafficking Program of the USCCB are available here.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

For your August Calendar

Here are some dates you might want to remember in August:

August 2 - Feast of St. Peter Faber
August 6 - Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima (1945)
August 9 - Anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki (1945)
August 9 - Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
August 11 - Feast of St. Clare of Assisi
August 12 - International Youth Day
August 14 - Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe
August 15 - Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 21 - Anniversary of the Founding of the Sisters of Christian Charity (1849)
August 23 - International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition
August 27 - Feast of St. Monica
August 28 - Feast of St. Augustine
August 30 - International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Friday, July 27, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts of Gaudete et exsultate:

"Here I would like to mention two false forms of holiness that can lead us astray: gnosticism and pelagianism, . . . whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying" (35).

"Gnosticism presumes 'a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings'" (36).

"Thanks be to God, throughout the history of the Church it has always been clear that a person's perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they possess, but by the depth of their charity" (37).

"When somebody has an answer for every question, it is a sign that they are not on the right road. . . . If we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit rather than our own preconceptions, we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life.  This is the part of the mystery that a gnostic mentality cannot accept, since it is beyond its control" (41-2).

"It is not easy to grasp the truth that we have received from the Lord. And it is even more difficult to express it.  So we cannot claim that our way of understanding this truth authorizes us to exercise a strict supervision over others' lives" (43).

"The questions of our people, their suffering, their struggles, their dreams, their trials and their worries, all possess an interpretational value that we cannot ignore if we want to take the principle of the incarnation seriously.  Their wondering helps us to wonder, their questions to question us" (44).

"A dangerous confusion can arise. We can think that because we know something, or are able to explain it in certain terms, we are already saints, perfect and better than the 'ignorant masses.' . . . In point of fact, what we think we know should always motivate us to respond more fully to God's love.  Indeed, 'you learn so as to live; theology and holiness are inseparable'" (45).

"[Saint] Francis recognized the temptation to turn the Christian experience into a set of intellectual exercises that distance us from the freshness of the Gospel.  Saint Bonaventure, on the other hand, pointed out that true Christian wisdom can never be separated from mercy towards our neighbor: 'The greatest possible wisdom is to share fruitfully what we have to give. . . . Even as mercy is the companion of wisdom, avarice is its enemy'" (46).

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

50 Years After Humanae Vitae

On the 50th anniversary of Humane Vitae, Blessed Paul VI's Encyclical Letter on the integrity of love and the appropriate means of family planning, we would like to share recent essays:
  • From First Things: George Weigel's "Affirming and Celebrating Humanae Vitae," available here.
  • From America: Holy Taylor Coolman's "50 Years after Humanae Vitae, We Still Buy into the Myth of the Self-Made Man," available here.
  • From National Catholic Reporter:  Michael Sean Winters' "In Defense of Humanae Vitae," available here.
  • From National Catholic Register: Joseph Pronechen's review of Daniel DiSilva's documentary, "Sexual Revolution: 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae," available here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

The Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB urges participation in a Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life from Friday, August 3 through Friday, September 28.  More information is available here.

Friday, July 20, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts of Gaudete et Exsultate:

"Do not be afraid of holiness.  It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy.  On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self.  To depend on God sets us free from every form of enslavement and leads us to recognize our great dignity" (32).

"To the extent that each Christian grows in holiness, he or she will bear greater fruit for our world" (33).

"Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God.  Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit.  Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God's grace.  For in the words of Leon Bloy, when all is said and done, 'the only great tragedy in life is not to become a saint'" (34).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Congratulations, NativityMiguel School

We are happy to share this article from the July 16 Scranton Times-Tribune, "NativityMiguel school marks milestone with summer session," by Sarah Hofius Hall. 

What is the milestone?  The 2018-19 school year marks the first time the school -- having begun with only grade 5 in 2015 -- will be offering grades 5 through 8. 

Why is the milestone being marked now?  NativityMiguel Scranton recently began its summer session, which is an "unofficial start" to the 2018-19 school year. 

Why are we so happy to share this? NativityMiguel Scranton is co-sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton.  Several SCCs were involved with other religious communities and benefactors to make this dream a reality.  Sister Maria Angeline Weiss, SCC, currently teaches at NativityMiguel Scranton.  Additionally, we believe in the school's mission: "To provide a holistic, financially accessible and integrated education to students of all faith who are in grades five through eight and whose potential is underserved because of academic, social and financial challenges.  Through the shared commitment of community and educational leaders, the school offers an academically rigorous, extended-day, year-round program which empowers students to greater achievement in high school, college and future employment."

Congratulations to everyone at NativityMiguel Scranton!

Friday, July 13, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts from Gaudete et Exsultate

"Holiness is also parrhesia: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. . . . Boldness, enthusiasm, the freedom to speak out, apostolic fervor, all these are included in the word parrhesia" (129).

"Blessed Paul VI, in referring to obstacles to evangelization, spoke of a lack of fervor (parrhesia) that is 'all the more serious because it comes from within.'  How often we are tempted to keep close to the shore!  Yet the Lord calls us to put out into the deep and let down our nets (cf. Lk 5:4)" (130).

"Let us acknowledge our weakness, but allow Jesus to lay hold of it and send us on mission.  We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier.  Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission" (131).

"Parrhesia is a seal of the Spirit; it testifies to the authenticity of our preaching.  It is a joyful assurance that leads us to glory in the Gospel we proclaim" (132).

"We need the Spirit's prompting, lest we be paralyzed by fear and excessive caution, lest we grow used to keeping within safe bounds.  Let us remember that closed spaces grow musty and unhealthy" (133).

"Like the prophet Jonah, we are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven.  It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations.  We can resist leaving behind a familiar and easy way of doing things" (134).

"God is eternal newness. . . . Unafraid of the fringes, he himself became a fringe.  So if we dare to go to the fringes, we will find him there; indeed, he is already there.  Jesus is already there, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, in their wounded flesh, in their troubles and in their profound desolation.  He is already there" (135).

"We need to open the door of our hearts to Jesus, who stands and knocks.  Sometimes I wonder, though, if perhaps Jesus is already inside us and knocking on the door for us to let him escape from our stale self-centeredness" (136).

"Let us allow the Lord to rouse us from our torpor, to free us from our inertia.  Let us rethink our usual way of doing things; let us open our eyes and ears, and above all our hearts, so as not to be complacent about things as they are, but unsettled by the living and effective word of the risen Lord" (137).

"The saints surprise us, they confound us, because by their lives they urge us to abandon a dull and dreary mediocrity" (138).

"Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to hesitate when the Spirit calls us to take a step forward.  Let us ask for the apostolic courage to share the Gospel with others and to stop trying to make our Christian life a museum of memories.  In every situation, may the Holy Spirit cause us to contemplate history in the light of the risen Jesus.  In this way, the Church will not stand still, but constantly welcome the Lord's surprises" (139).

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Independence Day

As we celebrate Independence Day with gratitude for those who founded and have sustained the United States of America, we also remember the services being performed at our country's southern border.  As we noted in a recent post, Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ, and everyone at Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley are working tirelessly to serve refugee families.  Please continue to pray for everyone working at the border.  A link is provided here should you wish to donate to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter: TIP Report

The July 2018 issue of Stop Trafficking is available here. Because the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) was released by the U.S. Department of State a few days ago, the Report is the focus of this issue of Stop Trafficking.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

"God on the Border"

You may recall Sister Norma Pimentel, of the Missionaries of Jesus, who was part of a "virtual audience" with Pope Francis presented by ABC News in September 2015.  Sister Norma is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and an advocate for immigrants and refugees.  Recently, she received the Laetare Medal at the 2018 Commencement Ceremony of the University of Notre Dame. 

In a June 29 Washington Post editorial, "God on the Border," columnist Karen Tumulty profiles Sister Norma's work with Catholic Charities' Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. (Click here to read the editorial.) The Center provides a place of dignity and hope for those who are attempting to find a safer life in the United States.  We pray for all those who work at the border, especially for Sister Norma and the staff of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.