Browsing News Entries
Posted on 12/4/2023 16:24 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Dec 4, 2023 / 11:24 am (CNA).
Pope Francis offered his condolences after at least four people were killed and 54 injured in a bombing at a Catholic Mass on Sunday in the Philippines.
The pope sent a condolence telegram on Dec. 3 expressing his spiritual closeness to all affected by the bombing of the 7 a.m. Mass held in a gymnasium on the campus of Mindanao State University in the southern Philippines.
Police in the Philippines said Monday that they had identified at least two suspects in the terrorist attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing in a telegram message on Dec. 3, a claim that the country’s military has said it is working to verify.
The attack took place in the city of Marawi, which, unlike the rest of the predominantly Catholic Philippines, has a significant Muslim majority. Marawi is located on the island of Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, and is home to several Islamist militant groups fighting against the Philippine government.
Bishop Edwin Angot de la Peña, the head of the territorial prelature of Marawi, has said that the victims were four Catholic students who were leaders and volunteers in the university’s Catholic community. The bishop added on Dec. 4 that out of the 54 people injured in the bombing, seven were still in the hospital in critical condition.
“They hit us in the heart, that is, during the Eucharist, the highest moment of our faith. There is so much fear now, but faith accompanies us and supports us. Even in this moment of tribulation, we feel the presence of the Lord,” de la Peña told Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
The bishop also commented on the prompt and widespread solidarity and closeness expressed by local Muslim communities in the wake of the attack.
“Even the first responders, who transported the injured to the hospital, and the doctors themselves, all people of the Muslim faith, gave us concrete help and have been spent on the injured. Others are supporting the families of the victims,” he said. “These gestures give us hope and tell us that this brutal and senseless violence will not have the last word, it will not succeed in demolishing the good works built over many years.”
The head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Romeo Brawner, has said that he suspects the bombing could have been a retaliatory attack for recent military operations against the local extremist groups, Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute and Abu Sayyaf, both of which have links to the Islamic State.
As a precaution after the bombing, de la Peña has asked local Catholics to stay home on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8. A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will still be carried through the streets Friday to mark the solemnity, but instead of the usual crowded procession, Catholics have been asked to place candles in their windows and pray the rosary at home.
“We entrust ourselves in a special way to the Virgin Mary,” the bishop said, noting that the attack took place on the first Sunday of Advent.
Pope Francis’ condolence telegram was addressed to de la Peña. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who sent the telegram on the pope’s behalf, said Pope Francis “joins you in commending the souls of those who died to almighty God’s loving mercy, and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved.”
“With prayers that Christ, the Prince of Peace, will grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), His Holiness cordially imparts his blessing as a pledge of strength and consolation in the Lord,” the telegram said.
The pope also said he was praying for the victims and their families in his Angelus message on Sunday.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and current bishop of Kalookan, reflected on the spiritual significance of the bombing victims’ deaths during the sacrifice of the Mass.
“We take comfort in the thought that they have participated in the passion of Christ, that their blood has been poured out as a libation like the blood of Christ. They professed their faith at that last Mass that they attended, especially in the ‘communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting,’” David said.
“Through the same Eucharist which we celebrated with them on this day of the Lord, we have united ourselves with them by the same faith that we profess, and in the same grace of baptism through which we participate in the life-giving death of Christ,” he said.
“We pray for the eternal repose of those who have died and for the healing of those who have been injured. We unite ourselves spiritually with their families and draw strength and consolation from our faith in Christ who will ‘restore all things to himself, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col 1:20),’” the bishop said.
Posted on 12/3/2023 13:32 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Dec 3, 2023 / 08:32 am (CNA).
Pope Francis for the second consecutive Sunday was assisted by an aide in praying the Angelus as he continues to recover from an acute bronchial infection.
“Even today I won’t be able to read everything: I’m improving, but my voice still doesn’t work,” the pope said during the Sunday morning broadcast on the first Sunday of Advent. Instead “it will be Monsignor [Paolo] Braida who reads the catechesis,” Francis continued.
Braida, who serves as the head of office at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, once again read the pope’s remarks from the chapel at the papal residence at Casa Santa Marta. Last week the pope introduced him, saying he is the person who usually drafts the pope’s Angelus reflections.
Pope Francis normally prays the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
🎥VIDEO | Despite lung inflammation, Pope Francis led the Angelus prayer from Casa Santa Marta again. He mentioned that he could not read everything due to his voice not being back to normal yet, but he is getting better. Let us continue to pray for his recovery. pic.twitter.com/gbbRC2PKOm— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) December 3, 2023
On Saturday afternoon the Holy See Press Office reported that “the health conditions of the Holy Father are improving; the pope has no fever and is continuing with the appropriate therapy. To avoid exposure to sudden changes in temperature, tomorrow morning Pope Francis will recite the Angelus via connection from Casa Santa Marta.”
Braida opened the first Angelus of the new liturgical year by reading the pope’s remarks on the theme of “vigilance,” noting that in the Christian context being vigilant does not arise out of “fear” but instead stems from a sense “of longing, of waiting to go forth to meet their Lord who is coming.”
Reflecting on the parable of the master who goes from his house, leaving his servants in charge, the pope in his remarks noted that “they remain in readiness for his return because they care for him, because they have in mind that when he returns, they will make him find a welcoming and orderly home; they are happy to see him, to the point that they look forward to his return as a feast for the whole great family of which they are a part.”
The same sense of longing that defines the season of Advent prepares us “to welcome Jesus at Christmas.”
The idea of preparedness is, Braida read, ultimately one characterized by hope as seen in the “attitude of the sentinel, who in the night is not tempted by weariness, does not fall asleep but remains awake awaiting the coming light. The Lord is our light and it is good to dispose the heart to welcome him with prayer and to host him with charity, the two preparations that, so to speak, make him comfortable.”
To that end, Advent is not only a time of preparation but also of interior reflection where we can ask ourselves “how we can prepare a welcoming heart for the Lord.”
“We can do so by approaching his forgiveness, his word, his table, finding space for prayer, welcoming those in need. Let us cultivate his expectation without letting ourselves be distracted by so many pointless things and without complaining all the time, but keeping our hearts alert, that is, eager for him, awake and ready, impatient to meet him.”
After the recitation of the Angelus, Braida read the pope’s appeal, drawing attention to the end of the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, which lasted from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, allowed for humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, and resulted in a prisoner exchange between the two parties.
“It grieves us that the truce has been broken: that means death, destruction, misery. Many hostages have been freed, but many are still in Gaza. Let’s think to them, to their families who had seen a light, a hope of hugging their loved ones again,” Braida read.
The Qatari state-owned media outlet Al-Jazeera reported that a Hamas official told the network that “negotiations on prisoner exchanges are now over and will not resume until Israel halts its attack and hands over all Palestinian prisoners.”
The pope’s aide then noted that the Holy Father was following the events of the United Nations Climate Conference despite not being able to take the trip himself due to his illness.
“Even if from a distance, I am following the COP28 proceedings in Dubai with great attention. I’m close. I renew my appeal to respond to climate change with concrete political changes: Let us escape from the constraints of particularism and nationalism, patterns of the past, and embrace a common vision, committing ourselves all now, without delay, for a necessary global ecological conversion,” Braida read.
The pontiff, who will turn 87 on Dec. 17, was supposed to be in Dubai from Dec. 1–3 to deliver a speech to the conference and preside over the opening of the first-ever faith pavilion. However, given his illness and the ongoing treatment, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, led the Vatican delegation in place of the pope.
The pope closed the broadcast by telling the nearly 20,000 faithful present in the piazza and those watching the broadcast: “I wish everyone a happy Sunday and a happy Advent journey.”
Posted on 12/3/2023 12:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Dec 3, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).
During the holidays, Nativity scenes and Christmas trees decorate most Catholic homes, but what about Advent wreaths?
Advent wreaths are traditionally made from evergreen branches and have four candles. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent — three candles are purple, and one is a rose color.
The purple represents prayer, penance, and preparation for the coming of Christ. Historically, Advent was known as a “little Lent,” which is why the penitential color of purple is used. During Lent, we prepare for the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Similarly, during Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ, both on Christmas and at the second coming.
The rose candle is illuminated on the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday. At Mass on the third Sunday, the priest also wears rose-colored vestments. Gaudete Sunday is a day for rejoicing and joy as the faithful draw near to the birth of Jesus, and it marks the midpoint of Advent.
“The progressive lighting of the candles represents the expectation and hope surrounding Our Lord’s coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead,” the USCCB says.
During the Advent season, the faithful will also notice a common theme in the Gospel readings. The readings focus on preparation or “making straight the path of the Lord,” penance, and fasting. All of these things remind us of the importance of preparing our hearts for the Lord and making room for his presence in our lives.
Did you know?
The Advent wreath originated from a pagan European tradition, which consisted of lighting candles during the winter to ask the sun god to return with his light and warmth.
The first missionaries took advantage of this tradition to evangelize the people and taught them that they should use a candlelit wreath as a way of preparing for Christ’s birth, to celebrate his nativity, and to beg Jesus to infuse his light in their souls.
The circle of the Advent wreath is a geometric design that has neither a beginning nor an end. It reminds us that God does not have a beginning or an end either, which reflects his unity and eternity. It is a sign of the unending love that the faithful should show the Lord and their neighbors, which must be constantly renewed and never stop.
The green color of the wreath represents hope and life. The Advent wreath reminds us that Christ is alive among us and that we must cultivate a life of grace, spiritual growth, and hope during Advent.
Bless your Advent wreath
The blessing of an Advent wreath takes place on the first Sunday of Advent or on the evening before.
When the blessing of the Advent wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family. To bless your Advent wreath at home, follow our guide: “How to bless your Advent wreath at home.”
This article was originally published on Nov. 21, 2021, and was updated Nov. 30, 2023.
Posted on 12/3/2023 11:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Newsroom, Dec 3, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).
Advent begins this year on Sunday, Dec. 3. Most Catholics, even those who don’t often go to Mass, know that Advent involves a wreath with candles, possibly a “calendar” of hidden chocolates, and untangling strings of Christmas lights. But Advent is much more than that. Here is an explainer of what Advent is really about.
What is Advent?
The people of Israel waited for generations for the promised Messiah to arrive. Their poetry, their songs and stories, and their religious worship focused on an awaited savior who would come to them to set them free from captivity and to lead them to the fulfillment of all that God had promised.
Israel longed for a Messiah, and John the Baptist, who came before Jesus, promised that the Messiah was coming and could be found in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Advent is a season in the Church’s life intended to renew the experience of waiting and longing for the Messiah. Though Christ has already come into the world, the Church invites us to renew our desire for the Lord more deeply in our lives and to renew our desire for Christ’s triumphant second coming into the world.
Advent is the time in which we prepare for Christmas, the memorial of Jesus Christ being born into the world. Preparations are practical, like decorating trees and gift giving, but they’re also intended to be spiritual.
During Advent, we’re invited to enter more frequently into silence, into prayer and reflection, into Scripture, and into the sacramental life of the Church — all to prepare for celebrating Christmas.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the goal of Advent is to make present for ourselves and our families the “ancient expectancy of the Messiah ... by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming.”
What does the word Advent mean?
Advent comes from the Latin “ad + venire,” which means, essentially, “to come” to” or “to come toward.” “Ad + venire” is the root of the Latin “adventus,” which means “arrival.”
So Advent is the season of arrival: the arrival of Christ in our hearts, in the world, and into God’s extraordinary plan for our salvation.
So, it’s four weeks long?
Advent is a slightly different length each year. It starts four Sundays before Christmas. But because Christmas is on a fixed date, and could fall on different days of the week, Advent can be as short as three weeks and a day (like it is this year), or as long as four weeks.
Is Advent the ‘new year’?
The Church’s feasts and celebrations run on a yearlong cycle, which we call the “liturgical year.” The “liturgical year” starts on the first Sunday of Advent. So it’s a new liturgical year when Advent starts. But the Church also uses the ordinary calendar, so it would probably be a bit weird to have a “New Year’s Eve” party the night before Advent starts.
Advent wreaths: Where do they come from?
The Catholic Church has been using Advent wreaths since the Middle Ages. Lighting candles as we prepare for Christmas reminds us that Christ is the light of the world. And the evergreen boughs remind us of new and eternal life in Christ, the eternal son of the Father.
It is definitely true that Germanic people were lighting up candle wreaths in wintertime long before the Gospel arrived in their homeland. They did so because candle wreaths in winter are beautiful and warm. That a Christian symbol emerged from that tradition is an indication that the Gospel can be expressed through the language, customs, and symbols of cultures that come to believe that Christ Jesus is Lord.
One candle is pink — why?
There are four candles on the Advent wreath. Three are purple and lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, which we call Gaudete Sunday. On that Sunday, in addition to the pink candle, the priest wears a pink vestment, which he might refer to as “rose.”
Gaudete is a word that means “rejoice,” and we rejoice on Gaudete Sunday because we are halfway through Advent. Some people have the custom of throwing Gaudete parties, and this is also a day on which Christmas carolers may begin caroling door-to-door.
The three purple candles are sometimes said to represent prayer, fasting, and almsgiving — the three spiritual disciplines that are key to a fruitful Advent.
Is it wrong to sing Christmas songs during Advent?
No, but there are a lot of great Advent hymns and songs, such as “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” “O Come Divine Messiah,” “Come Thou Fount,” “Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding.”
When should the tree go up?
When to put up the tree is a decision that families decide on their own. Some people put up their tree and decorate it on the first Sunday of Advent to make a big transformation in their home and get them into “preparing for Christmas” mode.
Some put up the tree on the first Sunday of Advent, put on lights the next Sunday, ornaments the next, and decorate it more and more as they get closer to Christmas.
Some put up the tree on Gaudete Sunday, as a kind of rejoicing, and decorate it in the weeks between Gaudate and Christmas.
When the tree goes up and gets decorated is up to the individual and family, but having a Christmas tree is a big part of many people’s Advent tradition.
This explainer was initially published in November 2019 and has been updated.
Posted on 12/3/2023 09:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 3, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
How far would you go to serve God? Would you be willing to travel to the ends of the earth, with nothing but the guarantee of hardship, deprivation, and persecution?
While today, Dec. 3, is the first Sunday of Advent, it is also the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionaries and missions who led an unlikely life of adventure and heroism, full of unexpected twists and turns, taking the faith to the ends of the earth.
Born in 1506 to a noble Navarrese-Basque family, Francis grew up in a land wracked with war. Wedged between the growing imperial powers of Castile-Aragon (Spain) and France, Navarre seldom knew peace during Francis’ childhood.
As a member of the nobility, Francis was expected to lead a warrior’s life along with his father and brothers. But at the age of 10, his life took its first dramatic and tragic turn. His father died, his homeland kingdom of Navarre was defeated by Spain, his brothers were imprisoned, and his childhood home, the Castle of the House of Javier (Xavier), was almost entirely destroyed.
With Francis’ family disgraced and nearly wiped out, his prospects for a bright future looked dim. But God still had incredible plans for young Francis.
Hoping to rebuild the family’s legacy, Francis was sent in 1525 to the center of European theology and studies — the University of Paris.
There, Francis quickly made a name for himself. Handsome, he also had a keen intellect and was an agile athlete with a particular gift for pole vaulting. The last thing on young Francis’ mind was a life of humble service to God and the Church. However, his life took a second dramatic turn after he met a fellow Basque noble, Ignatius of Loyola.
Headstrong and stubborn, Francis was initially repelled by Ignatius’ ideas of radical devotion to God. But Ignatius would remind him of Jesus’ words in the Bible: “For what doth it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul?” (Mt 16:26).
Inspired by Ignatius’ piety and fervor, Francis finally decided to dedicate his life to the service of God. In 1534, along with Ignatius and five others, Francis took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a chapel at Montmartre in France.
Receiving Holy Orders alongside Ignatius in 1537, Francis had intended to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. But war in the region made such a journey impossible. Once again, God was about to unexpectedly and radically alter the course of Francis’ life.
Pope Leo III asked the newly founded Jesuits to send missionaries to the Portuguese colonies in India. Though Francis was originally not supposed to go, one of the Jesuits assigned to the mission fell ill, and Francis volunteered in his place. Through that courageous act of trust, God would use Francis to transform the entire Asian continent.
Francis set out for India in 1541, on his 35th birthday. Traveling by sea at this time was extremely dangerous and uncomfortable, and those who dared to do so risked disease with no guarantee of ever successfully arriving at their destination. Francis had to sail all the way around Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope, almost to the very bottom of the globe, just to cross the Indian Ocean and arrive in Goa, a province in India.
Upon his arrival in India in 1542, Francis immediately faced countless challenges in bringing the word of God to the people of this new and foreign region. For seven years Francis preached in the streets and public squares, laboring tirelessly across India and the Asian Pacific islands, contending with persecution from warlords and at times even from the Portuguese authorities meant to help him.
After converting tens of thousands and planting the seeds of a renewed and lasting Christian Church in India, Francis began to hear stories about an enchanting island nation known as “Japan.” His heart was set ablaze with the desire to bring the Gospel to Japan.
After he had ensured the faithful in India would be properly cared for, Francis set sail for the mysterious new land, becoming the first to bring the Christian faith to Japan, on the complete opposite side of the world from his home in Navarre.
In Japan, Francis and his companions traveled far and wide, often on foot and with almost no resources. Crisscrossing the nation, he built up a vibrant Christian community more than 6,000 miles from Rome.
Francis would then hear of the even more mysterious and closely guarded nation of China and there, too, he decided to bring the word of God. But before he could find a way into China’s heartland, he became ill and died in 1552 while on the Chinese Shangchuan Island.
Now considered one of the greatest of all the Church’s missionaries, St. Francis Xavier proved that one life lived in complete trust in God can transform an entire continent and the whole world.
This article was originally published on Dec. 3, 2022, and was updated Dec. 1, 2023.
Posted on 12/3/2023 05:03 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 3, 2023 / 00:03 am (CNA).
At least three people were killed and others injured Sunday morning in an explosion during a Mass held in a university gymnasium in the southern Philippines.
Authorities are investigating whether pro-Islamic State militants were responsible for the blast, which set off a panic on the campus of Mindanao State University in Marawi on the island of Mindanao. The province, located on the borders of Malaysia and Indonesia, is home to several Islamist militant groups fighting against the Philippine government.
“This is clearly an act of terrorism. It’s not a simple feud between two people. A bomb will kill everybody around,” Taha Mandangan, the university’s security chief, told the Associated Press. The explosion left the victims bloodied and sprawled on the ground, he said.
Reuters and other media outlets reported that three were killed and nine wounded. A government official later said four had died and scores were injured.
The official, Carlito G. Galvez Jr., a retired Philippine Army general serving as a presidential adviser to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the peace process, issued a statement condemning the violence.
“This horrendous attack, which happened during a Mass and the Mindinao Week of Peace, shows the ruthless methods these lawless elements will utilize to sow fear, anger, and animosity among our people. We will not allow this to happen,” Galvez said. “Such a barbaric act has no room in a human civilized and peaceful society.”
Mindanao State University issued a statement on Facebook saying it is “deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering.” The university said it was suspending classes until further notice.
Posted on 12/2/2023 13:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Dec 2, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).
As we begin Advent and prepare for the birth of Christ in all the practical ways — gift buying, tree trimming, decorating, meal planning, and more — it’s important to prepare to welcome Jesus into our hearts at Christmas. With the hustle and bustle of holiday festivities, it is easy to lose track of what truly makes this time of year so special.
Here are five resources to help you grow in your faith and dig deeper into the meaning of Advent.
Abiding Together is a weekly podcast hosted by Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT; Michelle Benzinger; and Heather Khym. Their weekly chats provide listeners with a sense of community and offers a voice of hope, peace, healing, and encouragement. During Advent you can join this podcast community by diving deeper into Caryll Houselander’s “The Reed of God,” which depicts the humanity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The four-part series starts on Dec. 4 and includes journaling and discussion questions that accompany the podcast episode.
Blessed is She
“A sisterhood of women who desire two things: prayer and community” is how the popular Catholic platform Blessed Is She (BIS) describes itself. Over the years, it has provided resources and products to help deepen one’s prayer life during liturgical seasons such as Lent and Advent. This year for Advent, BIS has a devotional for women called “Found.” Through daily reflections, Scripture, and lectio divina, women are invited to explore their journey with the Good Shepherd.
Prepare your hearts for the birth of Christ by joining Hallow’s Advent Pray25 with C.S. Lewis. Actors Jonathan Roumie of “The Chosen” and Liam Neeson, the voice of Aslan in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” movie, will guide listeners through daily prayers and reflections based on different works of Lewis including “The Four Loves,” “Mere Christianity,” “The Great Divorce,” and more.
She Reads Truth
She Reads Truth is a community of women who come together every day to read God’s word together. For Advent this year, those who join can take part in the “Advent: He Alone Is Worthy Study Book.” The book is filled with Advent prayers, reflections, daily Scripture readings, prayer prompts, journaling space, and even seasonal recipes and tips for hosting Christmas gatherings. If you would like to include your husband, father, or brother in this Advent journey, the He Reads Truth version of the study book is also available.
EWTN Religious Catalog
A brand-new book in the EWTN Religious Catalog is providing hope and inspiration for readers this Advent season. “Rejoicing in Our Hope: Meditations for the Advent and Christmas Seasons” by Bishop Robert Baker, retired bishop of Birmingham, Alabama, is filled with short stories, daily questions for reflection and action, and reflections on sacred Scripture, the saints, popes, and other famous individuals.
This Advent, let us all strive to prepare ourselves to allow the Christ Child to dwell in our hearts and rejoice in the beauty that is the Advent season.
Posted on 12/2/2023 12:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Dec 2, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).
The Magdala Tourist Center, located in the biblical town of Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, announced a virtual pilgrimage due to the conflict in the Holy Land, which is preventing pilgrims from visiting in person this Advent and Christmas season.
The “Star of Wonder Advent Pilgrimage of Peace” will start on Sunday, Dec. 3, and continue throughout the Advent season. Each Sunday, a video will be released from a holy site and will discuss its biblical meaning and include daily reflections.
Holy sites in the virtual pilgrimage will include Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene; Nazareth; Ein Karem, the place of the Visitation and birth of John the Baptist; Bat Sahour; and Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.
Kathleen Nichols, the director of Magdala’s English media team who leads in-person and virtual pilgrimages, told CNA in an interview that the virtual pilgrimage was “inspired by the conflict here in the Holy Land.”
Nichols and her small team went into the Palestinian Territories to film in the now-empty sites connected with Christ’s birth. Their hope is that virtual pilgrims can fill these places with prayers for peace from all over the world.
“People cannot come in person, and everyone wants to help by praying for peace,” she said. “And so I wanted to fill the holy sites with peace.”
“We hope people can fill the holy sites, especially the site of the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, with prayer for peace,” she added.
The Magdala Tourist Center, which began construction in 2009, is made up of an archaeological park, guest house, and worship center. As construction began, workers who were digging the foundation of the guest house discovered a first-century synagogue. Inside that synagogue, they also found the Magdala Stone, a discovery many archaeologists consider the most significant archaeological find in the past 50 years.
Other attractions include buildings considered mansions of wealthy merchants from Magdala, a marketplace, and four “mikvaot,” which were ritual baths. Additionally, the Duc In Altum, which gets its name from Luke 5:4 where Jesus instructs Simon Peter to “launch into the deep” or “put out into deep water,” serves as a place of prayer and worship for Christians of all denominations.
While pilgrims are canceling their planned trips to the Holy Land, Nichols hopes the virtual pilgrimage will help participants “fully understand what true peace is by encountering the Prince of Peace” and that “they [will] be encouraged to return soon to the Holy Land once the conflict is resolved."
“And especially support the many people so affected by the conflict,” she added.
Posted on 12/2/2023 11:45 AM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Dec 2, 2023 / 06:45 am (CNA).
Pope Francis called the destruction of the environment “an offense against God” in a message given to the participants in the U.N. climate summit on Saturday.
The keynote address that the pope had intended to give in person at the COP28 conference was distributed to the attendees in Dubai, where Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read a shortened version of the pope’s speech to the assembly on Dec. 2.
Pope Francis, who turns 87 in two weeks, canceled his scheduled trip to the United Arab Emirates days before the climate summit at the request of his doctors after coming down with a flu infection that left him with breathing difficulties and acute bronchitis.
“Sadly, I am unable to be present with you, as I had greatly desired,” the pope said in his message to COP28.
“Even so … I am with you because the destruction of the environment is an offense against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst, and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations.”
Pope Francis would have been the first pope to attend the U.N.’s climate change conference, known as the “Conference of the Parties” (COP), which has been held annually since 1995.
Care for creation has been an important theme in Francis’ pontificate. The pope has said that he decided to write his 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris and recently published a new apostolic exhortation titled Laudate Deum (“Praise God”), called climate change “one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community.”
In his message to the COP28 conference, the pope underlined the need for “multilateralism” to establish “global and effective rules” to fight climate change.
“Climate change signals the need for political change. Let us emerge from the narrowness of self-interest and nationalism; these are approaches belonging to the past,” he said.
The pope called it “disturbing” that “global warming has been accompanied by a general cooling of multilateralism, a growing lack of trust within the international community.”
“How much energy is humanity wasting on numerous wars … conflicts that will not solve problems but only increase them!” he added.
Pope Francis described environmental protections as part of “a culture of life” and underlined that attempts to shift blame for climate change onto the poor or high birth rates “must be firmly dispelled.”
“Births are not a problem, but a resource: They are not opposed to life, but for life, whereas certain ideological and utilitarian models now being imposed with a velvet glove on families and peoples constitute real forms of colonization,” he said.
“Let us join in embracing an alternative vision: this will help to bring about an ecological conversion, for ‘there are no lasting changes without cultural changes’ (Laudate Deum, 70),” the pope added.
“In this regard, I would assure you of the commitment and support of the Catholic Church, which is deeply engaged in the work of education and of encouraging participation by all, as well as in promoting sound lifestyles, since all are responsible and the contribution of each is fundamental.”
During the COP28 summit in Dubai, Cardinal Parolin will also preside over the inauguration of an interfaith pavilion at the climate conference on Dec. 3 alongside Spanish Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, an expert on Islam and current prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue.
The faith pavilion, hosted by the Muslim Council of Elders, will serve as a hub for faith-based engagement on climate issues and as the venue for more than 65 sessions with religious figures, scientists, and political leaders at the conference.
Posted on 12/2/2023 11:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 2, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).
For unique Christmas gifts that celebrate your Catholic faith there are many monasteries and religious communities that offer handmade gifts for sale online.
Buying presents from religious brothers and sisters has the added advantage of lending support to these communities, many of whom depend on a successful Christmas shopping season to continue their lives of prayer and service.
Here’s a guide to some of CNA staff members’ favorite gifts to give and receive.
The contemplative Sisters of the Monastery of Bethlehem in Livingston Manor, New York, support themselves by hand-painting chinaware. The exquisite, intricately-designed pieces make lovely Christmas gifts, and the china is dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
The sisters belong to the monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno, which was founded in 1950 when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin, which states that Mary was elevated, body and soul, from earth into heaven. They create their beautiful chinaware in prayerful solitude. Plates, serving bowls, and platters from $31 and up make lovely gifts. Hand-painted porcelain egg cups for $23.97 are also available through EWTN’s Religious Catalog.
Wine from the first papal vineyard
The Benedictine monks and nuns of the Abbeys of Le Barroux, a vineyard established by Pope Clement V in 1309 in the Rhône Valley of France, now have a U.S. distributor for their Via Caritas wine. The wine is made in cooperation with local vineyards, and the proceeds help support these winemaking families. The monks’ award-winning wines are available to purchase for $21.99 and up.
EWTN’s Colm Flynn visited the vineyard and witnessed the winemaking process firsthand in this video.
Soap and candles
The nuns from the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, live a life of prayer through Eucharistic adoration and dedication to the rosary. To support this way of life they create handmade candles and skin-care products, which they sell at their Cloister Shoppe. Create your own Christmas gift bag of two bars of soap, a hand cream, a jar candle, a face moisturizer, and a handmade rosary made from olive wood beads from the Holy Land for $50.
Throw in a pair of Bayberry Christmas Eve Tapers for $18 to give your holiday table a festive glow.
Handmade friar’s rosary (supplies limited)
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal handcraft these extra-large wooden rosaries (like the friars use), which are offered for sale through Spirit Juice Studios for $30. The friars live in community, carrying out their mission of evangelization and serving the poor in the tradition of St. Francis.
Check out their weekly Poco a Poco podcast here, where Father Innocent, Father Angelus, and Father Mark-Mary break open the Gospel and offer “practical spirituality” for all pilgrims.
These fruitcakes are not the sort that get regifted. The monks of New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California, offer a fruitcake soaked in brandy and aged for three months. It “has converted many a fruitcake ‘atheist,’” according to its creators. Order a one-pound fruitcake for $26.98.
The Monks of the Abbey of Gethsemani in New Haven, Kentucky, offer a 20-ounce Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake along with a jar of Trappist Apricot-Pineapple preserves and a jar of Trappist Quince Jelly, which make a lovely Christmas gift for $32.75.
The monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, make their famous fudge with premium chocolate and real butter. Try a 12-ounce gift box for $15. And for a taste of Georgia, try their Southern Touch fudge, “made with real peach morsels, pecans, and a touch of peach brandy.”
The Capuchin Poor Clare nuns make their famous butter cookies from their monastery in Denver. The “Clarisas” come in a beautiful gift box featuring an image of St. Clare and sell for $18 for a 1.5-pound box.
The contemplative nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa, are known for their delicious caramels, which they make by hand in order to support their way of life. A 9-ounce box of sea salt chocolate-covered caramels sells for $15.55.
The Wyoming Carmelites of Mystic Monk Coffee hand-roast their beans in small batches to support their community. The website CoffeeReview.com ranks their coffee among the highest of the coffees it reviews. A 12-ounce bag of their most popular flavor, Jingle Bell Java, sells for $13.95.
Since they began their coffee business in 2007, the monks have been able to live out the Carmelites’ vocation of “hidden prayer and union with God for the sake of everyone throughout the Church and the world.”
The monks at Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas make a tangy hot sauce from the habanero peppers grown in the monastery’s gardens. Benedictine Father Richard Walz began making his “Monk Sauce” while he was stationed in Belize, Central America. In 2003, he brought back some seeds from the peppers he grew there and created a tangy sauce made from the chilies along with onions, garlic, carrots, vinegar, salt, and “a few prayers thrown in for good measure.”
How spicy is it? According to the abbey’s website, their Monk Sauce has a 250,000 Scoville Unit rating, while Tabasco’s habanero sauce earned a mere 7,000 Scoville Unit rating. Available in green, red, and smoked, the 5-ounce bottles sell for $11 each.