Perspectives Daily – Papal Nuncio Addresses Israeli Assault in Gaza

Today on Perspectives, we look at the deteriorating situation in Gaza and Vatican Radio talks to the Papal Nuncio to the Holy Land to get his assessment of the situation. Catholic News Service also takes a look back at the First World War a century after its inception and examines how the Vatican responded to total war.

Perspectives Daily – Pope Speaks as Last Christians Expelled from Iraqi City

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis and others speak out against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria expelling the last of Mosul’s Christian population.

Perspectives Daily – Brief Relief in Gaza

Today on Perspectives, brief cease fire brings temporary relief in Gaza, the Holy See Press Office announces two trips for the pope to the city of Caserta and a look ahead at a pair upcoming events.

Perspectives Daily – Nuns and Orphans Freed in Iraq as Country Destabilizes

Today on Perspectives, nuns and orphans are freed by their hostage takers in Iraq as the country’s stability continually comes into question. Cardinal George addresses the child migrant situation along the US-Mexico border and a look at the launch of the website for Pope Francis’ visit to Korea next month.

Perspectives Daily – Detailed Report on Vatican Financial Holdings

Today on Perspectives, the Institute for Religious Works releases its annual report for 2013 and the Pope addresses the issue of child migrants at the US border.

Perspectives Daily – Vatican Questions Clarity of La Repubblica Article

Today on Perspectives, the Vatican works to clarify an article in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper quoting Pope Francis on a series of on controversial topics. We also look at Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address where he addressed the escalating violence in the Holy Land. Finally we hear about three new bishops named in Hong Kong as well the episcopal ordination of Bishop Kevin Doran in Ireland.

400th anniversary of the death of St. Camillus de Lellis

st cam

Today is the feast day and the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Camillus de Lellis, patron of nurses and the sick.

Camillus de Lellis was born on May 25, 1550 in Bucchianico, Italy.  He possessed a violent temper and struggled with a horrible addiction to gambling, and by 1574 was reduced to poverty and shame in Naples. He fought for the Venetians against the Turks.  He became a Capuchin novice, but was unable to be professed because of a badly diseased leg he contracted while fighting the Turks. Through a long and hard struggle he eventually conquered his weaknesses .  His dramatic conversion was evident as he began to devote himself to caring for the sick. He became director of St. Giacomo Hospital in Rome.

Camillus chose a red cross as the distinguishing badge for the members of his Order to wear on their black cassocks. He taught his volunteers to look upon the hospital as a house of God, a garden where the voices of the sick were music from heaven. He obtained permission from St. Philip Neri to be ordained. Along with two companions, he founded his own congregation, the Ministers of the Sick , also referred to as the Camillians, who were dedicated to the care of the sick. They ministered to the sick of Holy Ghost Hospital in Rome, founded a new house in Naples in 1588, and cared for those aboard plague-stricken ships in Rome .

In 1591, the Congregation was made into an order to serve the sick by Pope Gregory XIV, and in 1591 and 1605, Camillus sent members to minister to wounded troops in Hungary and Croatia, the first field medical unit.  Suffering and gravely ill for many years, he resigned as superior of the Order in 1607. On July 14, 1614 he died in Rome. He was canonized in 1746, was declared patron of the sick, by Pope Leo XIII, and patron of nurses and nursing groups by Pope Pius XI.

One of his most famous words of wisdom was this: “Brother, if you commit a sin and take pleasure in it, the pleasure passes but the sin remains. But if you do something virtuous even though you are tired, the tiredness passes but the virtue remains.”

St Camillus de Lellis is a true inspiration to all of us who deal with our own moral, spiritual or physical struggles and a wonderful testament to the real miracles of Christian charity.

“Death not a good End but a good Transition” Confronting the Reality of Euthanasia

blog 1The mainstream media has caused great confusion about the topic of euthanasia and has been extremely deceptive in its portrayal of human suffering and compassion.  Most people who think that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be legal are not thinking the whole issue through. They are thinking about personal autonomy and choice. They think about what it would be like to suddenly become incapacitated and consider such a life as undignified or worthless. Perhaps they consider severely disabled people as having no quality of life.  Our dignity and quality of life don’t come from what we can or cannot do. Dignity and quality of life are not matters of efficiency, proficiency and productivity.  They come from a deeper place– from who we are and how we relate to each other.

The notion that euthanasia and/or assisted suicide can be a reality for us in Canada should come as a wake-up call to all Canadians, not just because of the notion that all life is sacred from conception to natural death, but simply because of whom such a law would affect most, the most vulnerable; the chronically ill, who are a strain on the health care system; the elderly who have been abandoned and who have no one to speak on their behalf, and who feel they may be a burden to others; and the disabled who have to fight every day to maintain their own integrity and dignity.

Our society has lost sight of the sacred nature of human life. As Catholic Christians we are deeply committed to the protection of life from its earliest moments to its final moments. When people today speak about a “good death,” they usually refer to an attempt to control the end of one’s life, even through physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. The Christian notion of a good death, however, is death not as a good end, but a good transition, that requires faith, proper acceptance and readiness.

What is wrong with abortion, euthanasia, embryo selection, and embryonic research is not the motives of those who carry them out. So often, those motives are, on the surface, compassionate: to protect a child from being unwanted, to end pain and suffering, to help a child with a life-threatening disease. But in all these cases, the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings.

JP II sufferingSt. John Paul II taught us how to respect the frail and the vulnerable. Nine years ago, as he died before the eyes of the entire world, John Paul showed us true dignity in the face of death. Rather than hide his infirmities, as most public figures do, he let the whole world see what he went through in the final phase of his life. He offered us a paradoxical image of happiness. Who can say his life was not fruitful, when his body was able to climb snow-capped summits or vacation on Strawberry Island in Lake Simcoe in 2002? Who doesn’t feel the paradoxical influence of his presence, when his voice was muted?

We must never lose sight of the atrocities against the unborn, the untold and too-seldom spoken of pain and lingering anguish experienced by those who have been involved in abortions. Nor can we ignore the other great challenge faced by humanity today–the serious question of mercy killing, or euthanasia as it is sometimes called, no longer found in abstract cases and theories. It has arrived on our shores and it has invaded our lives.

This issue strikes to the very core of who we are and what we believe. Even when not motivated by the refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must be called a false and misguided mercy. True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, not killing the person whose suffering we cannot bear. The best way to know if we are still in any way a Christian society is to see how we treat our most vulnerable people, the ones with little or no claim on public attention, the ones without beauty, strength or intelligence.

Human life and human dignity encounter many obstacles in the world today, especially in North America. When life is not respected, should we be surprised that other rights will sooner or later be threatened? If we look carefully at the great dramas of the last century, we see that as free markets toppled Communism, exaggerated consumerism and materialism infiltrated our societies and cultures. Aging populations, especially in the west, and resulting smaller workforces are now creating a market push towards euthanasia. As St. John Paul II wrote: “a right to die will inevitably give way to the duty to die.”

In a very powerful message addressed to the Pontifical Academy for Life this past February, Pope Francis wrote about a very current theme, dear to the Church. “In our society there is a tyrannical dominance of an economic logic that excludes and at times kills, and of which nowadays we find many victims, starting with the elderly”. He affirmed that we see the existence of a “throwaway” culture, in which those who are excluded are not only exploited but also rejected and cast aside.

In the face of this discrimination, Pope Francis considered the anthropological question of the value of man and of what may be the basis of this value. “Health is without doubt an important value, but it does not determine the value of a person. Furthermore, health is not by itself a guarantee of happiness, which may indeed by experienced even by those in a precarious state of health”. Therefore, he added, “poor health and disability are never a good reason to exclude or, worse, eliminate a person; and the most serious deprivation that the elderly suffer is not the weakening of the body or the consequent disability, but rather abandonment, exclusion, and a lack of love”.

The Pope emphasized the importance of listening to the young and the old whenever we wish to understand the signs of the times, and commented that “a society is truly welcoming to life when it recognizes its value also in old age, in disability, in serious illness, and even when it at its close; when it teaches that the call to human realization does not exclude suffering but instead teaches to see in the sick and suffering a gift to the entire community, a presence that calls for solidarity and responsibility”.

As Catholics and Christians, we have a responsibility to confront the intrusion of euthanasia in our society – especially if we are to understand our moral obligation as caregivers for incapacitated persons, and our civic obligation to protect those who lack the capacity to express their will but are still human, still living, and still deserving of equal protection under the law.  There can be no true peace unless life is defended and promoted.

July 11, 2014

Installation Mass of Bishop McGrattan Available for Purchase

Most Reverend Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan was appointed as the 12th Bishop of Peterborough in April after the resignation of Most Reverend Bishop Nicola De Angelis, C.F.I.C. The installation of Bishop William McGrattan was celebrated on Monday, June 23, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter-in-Chains.

DVD_mcgrattan-250x250Bishop William McGrattan was born in London, Ontario on Sept. 19 1956. He received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering (B.E.Sc.) at the University of Western Ontario, followed by a Master of Divinity from St. Peter’s Seminary in London. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 2, 1987 with the Diocese of London. Following three years of service with St. Joseph’s parish in Chatham, Bishop McGrattan continued his studies in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received Licentiate in Fundamental Moral Theology in 1992.

Bishop McGrattan served on the faculty of St. Peter’s Seminary in London as associate professor, vice-rector and dean of theology and was appointed to rector of the Seminary in 1997. He was appointed to Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto on Nov. 6, 2009. Currently, Bishop McGrattan serves as a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and on the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine, in addition to being the Bishop with the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and the National Spiritual Advisor with the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

“Installation Mass of the Most Reverend William T. McGrattan” is available on the Salt and Light Store for $14.95. Don’t miss your chance to relive the beautiful ceremony that celebrates the Diocese of Peterborough’s newest bishop.

“Preferring Nothing to the Love of Christ” On the feast of Saint Benedict – July 11

Benedict-circle-cropped

On 27 April 2005, at his first General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI told the assembled crowds why he had chosen that name for his ministry as Bishop of Rome. Among other reasons, this was an homage to Saint Benedict, whose feast we celebrate today, who has played such a role in the spiritual and cultural formation of Europe, particularly Pope Benedict’s beloved Bavaria.

Yet there was also a profoundly spiritual reason. Pope Benedict quoted Chapter 72 of the Holy Rule, “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” placing his ministry decisively under the watchful care of Saint Benedict: “At the beginning of my service as Successor of Peter, I ask St. Benedict to help us keep Christ firmly at the heart of our lives. May Christ always have pride of place in our thoughts and in all our activities!”

Pope Benedict has honored his patron in more than words. An old friend who saw him a few weeks ago quoted him saying that he was spending his retirement living like a monk – nothing would be more pleasing to Saint Benedict.

Perhaps the best way to honor Saint Benedict is to attend to his teaching and to love the same things that he loves. He wrote a Rule which serves as the foundation of life for many, many religious communities. One reason why this Rule has endured for over 1500 years is that it is so balanced, so humane. Benedict demonstrates a profound understanding of human nature, and his Rule looks on human weakness with a compassionate eye while making it clear that life in the school of the Lord’s service is not always easy. As the Prologue states, “In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and safeguard love.” The Rule is designed to help communities of Christians live a moderate life of prayer and work, so that in all things, God may be glorified.

One bit of wisdom Benedict’s example imparts to the wider Church is the necessity of a rule of life for serious discipleship. There are all manner of profound spiritual traditions in the Church, from Saint Benedict to Pope Francis’ beloved Saint Ignatius, to more contemporary figures such as Charles de Foucauld or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. To be saved from abstraction, though, these profound teachings need to be integrated into a rule of life for the serious Christian: what time in my day am I giving to prayer? Where in my life is concrete service to the poor? Through his Rule, Benedict wants to be sure that the Gospel permeates every aspect of life. This need not be limited to women and men who live in monasteries.

Another great contribution of Saint Benedict to the wider Church was the generous time he allowed each day to holy reading, lectio divina. There are numerous resources to help Christians learn and practice this form of prayer, but an old spiritual director liked to tell me that the heart of lectio divina, the prayerful reading of the Word of God, isn’t really confined to a method. When teaching and practicing this prayer with students, I would say that lectio is really working well when the Word of God is influencing you in ways that you aren’t even really aware. It need not be complicated. Read the scripture readings for the day’s Mass, and spend a few minutes with a single line.

Perhaps one example of this is Pope Francis. Summaries of his daily homilies at the chapel next to the Vatican guesthouse where he is living have become required reading for many. It is said that these homilies emerge from the very early mornings that Pope Francis keeps, rising to pray over that day’s readings for Mass. Sounds awfully Benedictine to me. While Pope Francis is a joyful Jesuit, his recent invitation to spend five minutes each day with Psalm 102 could have come straight from the lips of Saint Benedict himself!

Of course, one cannot look at Saint Benedict without considering his twin sister, Saint Scholastica. In the Office of Readings for her feast day, we read from Book II of the Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great. Benedict and Scholastica meet once each year and spend the day in spiritual conversation. When evening comes, Benedict is ready to return to his monastery.  Scholastica protests, asking Benedict to remain for yet further conversation about the things of God. When Benedict refuses, Scholastica begins to pray, and a great thunderstorm begins that settled the argument: Benedict could go nowhere. Gregory the Great explains Scholastica’s success: “It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.”

This is a fine summary of the goal of Saint Benedict and his Rule, lectio divina, and all Christian living: to love more. Through Saint Benedict’s prayers, may God bring to fulfillment that good work in us.

Nickolas Becker, OSB
Fr Becker

 

This blog post comes to us from Fr. Nickolas Becker, OSB, a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Father Nickolas professed his final vows as a Benedictine monk in 2010, and currently is pursuing a doctorate in moral theology at the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.