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Friday, December 30, 2011

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : FRI. DEC. 30, 2011

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VATICAN : POPE : MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF PEACE
EUROPE : COMECE CONFERENCE ON SOLIDARITY
AMERICA : CANADA : NEW BISHOP OF VALLEYFIELD QUEBEC
AUSTRALIA : CHRISTMAS FROM THE NEW DOMUS
RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI has chosen the theme "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” for the celebration of the 45th World Day of Peace on January 1, 2012. The theme focuses on an urgent need in the world today: to listen to and enhance the important role of new generations in the realization of the common good, and in the affirmation of a just and peaceful social order where fundamental human rights can be fully expressed and realized.

The Message is addressed especially to parents, families and all those involved in the area of education and formation, as well as to leaders in the various spheres of religious, social, political, economic and cultural life and in the media. The Message begins with an introductory paragraph (1) and is organized into 4 subsequent paragraphs (2-6), each of which has its own heading: (2) Educators; (3) Educating in truth and freedom; (4) Educating in justice; (5) Educating in peace; (6) Lifting one’s eyes to God. As the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Peace, we republish the complete text of the Pope's Message below:

EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE IN JUSTICE AND PEACE
1. The beginning of a new year, God’s gift to humanity, prompts me to extend to all, with great confidence and affection, my heartfelt good wishes that this time now before us may be marked concretely by justice and peace.
With what attitude should we look to the New Year? We find a very beautiful image in Psalm 130. The Psalmist says that people of faith wait for the Lord “more than those who watch for the morning” (v. 6); they wait for him with firm hope because they know that he will bring light, mercy, salvation. This waiting was born of the experience of the Chosen People, who realized that God taught them to look at the world in its truth and not to be overwhelmed by tribulation. I invite you to look to 2012 with this attitude of confident trust. It is true that the year now ending has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological. It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day.
In this shadow, however, human hearts continue to wait for the dawn of which the Psalmist speaks. Because this expectation is particularly powerful and evident in young people, my thoughts turn to them and to the contribution which they can and must make to society. I would like therefore to devote this message for the XLV World Day of Peace to the theme of education: “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”, in the conviction that the young, with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world.
My Message is also addressed to parents, families and all those involved in the area of education and formation, as well as to leaders in the various spheres of religious, social, political, economic and cultural life and in the media. Attentiveness to young people and their concerns, the ability to listen to them and appreciate them, is not merely something expedient; it represents a primary duty for society as a whole, for the sake of building a future of justice and peace.
It is a matter of communicating to young people an appreciation for the positive value of life and of awakening in them a desire to spend their lives in the service of the Good. This is a task which engages each of us personally.
The concerns expressed in recent times by many young people around the world demonstrate that they desire to look to the future with solid hope. At the present time, they are experiencing apprehension about many things: they want to receive an education which prepares them more fully to deal with the real world, they see how difficult it is to form a family and to find stable employment; they wonder if they can really contribute to political, cultural and economic life in order to build a society with a more human and fraternal face.
It is important that this unease and its underlying idealism receive due attention at every level of society. The Church looks to young people with hope and confidence; she encourages them to seek truth, to defend the common good, to be open to the world around them and willing to see “new things” (Is 42:9; 48:6).
Educators
2. Education is the most interesting and difficult adventure in life. Educating – from the Latin educere – means leading young people to move beyond themselves and introducing them to reality, towards a fullness that leads to growth. This process is fostered by the encounter of two freedoms, that of adults and that of the young. It calls for responsibility on the part of the learners, who must be open to being led to the knowledge of reality, and on the part of educators, who must be ready to give of themselves. For this reason, today more than ever we need authentic witnesses, and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts; we need witnesses capable of seeing farther than others because their life is so much broader. A witness is someone who fi rst lives the life that he proposes to others.
Where does true education in peace and justice take place? First of all, in the family, since parents are the first educators. The family is the primary cell of society; “it is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable them to have a constructive and peaceful coexistence. It is in the family that they learn solidarity between the generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and how to welcome others.” (1) The family is the first school in which we are trained in justice and peace.
We are living in a world where families, and life itself, are constantly threatened and not infrequently fragmented. Working conditions which are often incompatible with family responsibilities, worries about the future, the frenetic pace of life, the need to move frequently to ensure an adequate livelihood, to say nothing of mere survival – all this makes it hard to ensure that children receive one of the most precious of treasures: the presence of their parents. This presence makes it possible to share more deeply in the journey of life and thus to pass on experiences and convictions gained with the passing of the years, experiences and convictions which can only be communicated by spending time together. I would urge parents not to grow disheartened! May they encourage children by the example of their lives to put their hope before all else in God, the one source of authentic justice and peace.
I would also like to address a word to those in charge of educational institutions: with a great sense of responsibility may they ensure that the dignity of each person is always respected and appreciated. Let them be concerned that every young person be able to discover his or her own vocation and helped to develop his or her God-given gifts. May they reassure families that their children can receive an education that does not conflict with their consciences and their religious principles.
Every educational setting can be a place of openness to the transcendent and to others; a place of dialogue, cohesiveness and attentive listening, where young people feel appreciated for their personal abilities and inner riches, and can learn to esteem their brothers and sisters. May young people be taught to savour the joy which comes from the daily exercise of charity and compassion towards others and from taking an active part in the building of a more humane and fraternal society.
I ask political leaders to offer concrete assistance to families and educational institutions in the exercise of their right and duty to educate. Adequate support should never be lacking to parents in their task. Let them ensure that no one is ever denied access to education and that families are able freely to choose the educational structures they consider most suitable for their children. Let them be committed to reuniting families separated by the need to earn a living. Let them give young people a transparent image of politics as a genuine service to the good of all.
I cannot fail also to appeal to the world of the media to offer its own contribution to education. In today’s society the mass media have a particular role: they not only inform but also form the minds of their audiences, and so they can make a significant contribution to the education of young people. It is important never to forget that the connection between education and communication is extremely close: education takes place through communication, which influences, for better or worse, the formation of the person.
Young people too need to have the courage to live by the same high standards that they set for others. Theirs is a great responsibility: may they find the strength to make good and wise use of their freedom. They too are responsible for their education, including their education in justice and peace!
Educating in truth and freedom
3. Saint Augustine once asked: “Quid enim fortius desiderat anima quam veritatem? – What does man desire more deeply than truth?”(2) The human face of a society depends very much on the contribution of education to keep this irrepressible question alive. Education, indeed, is concerned with the integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension, focused upon man’s final end and the good of the society to which he belongs. Therefore, in order to educate in truth, it is necessary first and foremost to know who the human person is, to know human nature. Contemplating the world around him, the Psalmist reflects: “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4-5). This is the fundamental question that must be asked: who is man? Man is a being who bears within his heart a thirst for the infinite, a thirst for truth – a truth which is not partial but capable of explaining life’s meaning – since he was created in the image and likeness of God. The grateful recognition that life is an inestimable gift, then, leads to the discovery of one’s own profound dignity and the inviolability of every single person. Hence the first step in education is learning to recognize the Creator’s image in man, and consequently learning to have a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity. We must never forget that “authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension”(3), including the transcendent dimension, and that the person cannot be sacrificed for the sake of attaining a particular good, whether this be economic or social, individual or collective.
Only in relation to God does man come to understand also the meaning of human freedom. It is the task of education to form people in authentic freedom. This is not the absence of constraint or the supremacy of free will, it is not the absolutism of the self. When man believes himself to be absolute, to depend on nothing and no one, to be able to do anything he wants, he ends up contradicting the truth of his own being and forfeiting his freedom. On the contrary, man is a relational being, who lives in relationship with others and especially with God. Authentic freedom can never be attained independently of God.
Freedom is a precious value, but a fragile one; it can be misunderstood and misused. “Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of educating is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own self. With such a relativistic horizon, therefore, real education is not possible without the light of the truth; sooner or later, every person is in fact condemned to doubting the goodness of his or her own life and the relationships of which it consists, the validity of his or her commitment to build with others something in common”(4).
In order to exercise his freedom, then, man must move beyond the relativistic horizon and come to know the truth about himself and the truth about good and evil. Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law that he did not lay upon himself, but which he must obey. Its voice calls him to love and to do what is good, to avoid evil and to take responsibility for the good he does and the evil he commits(5). Thus, the exercise of freedom is intimately linked to the natural moral law, which is universal in character, expresses the dignity of every person and forms the basis of fundamental human rights and duties: consequently, in the final analysis, it forms the basis for just and peaceful coexistence.
The right use of freedom, then, is central to the promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others, including those whose way of being and living differs greatly from one’s own. This attitude engenders the elements without which peace and justice remain merely words without content: mutual trust, the capacity to hold constructive dialogue, the possibility of forgiveness, which one constantly wishes to receive but finds hard to bestow, mutual charity, compassion towards the weakest, as well as readiness to make sacrifices.
Educating in justice
4. In this world of ours, in which, despite the profession of good intentions, the value of the person, of human dignity and human rights is seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to have recourse exclusively to the criteria of utility, profit and material possessions, it is important not to detach the concept of justice from its transcendent roots. Justice, indeed, is not simply a human convention, since what is just is ultimately determined not by positive law, but by the profound identity of the human being. It is the integral vision of man that saves us from falling into a contractual conception of justice and enables us to locate justice within the horizon of solidarity and love(6).
We cannot ignore the fact that some currents of modern culture, built upon rationalist and individualist economic principles, have cut off the concept of justice from its transcendent roots, detaching it from charity and solidarity: “The ‘earthly city’ is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion. Charity always manifests God’s love in human relationships as well, it gives theological and salvific value to all commitment for justice in the world”(7).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt 5:6). They shall be satisfied because they hunger and thirst for right relations with God, with themselves, with their brothers and sisters, and with the whole of creation.
Educating in peace
5. “Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity.”8 We Christians believe that Christ is our true peace: in him, by his Cross, God has reconciled the world to himself and has broken down the walls of division that separated us from one another (cf. Eph 2:14-18); in him, there is but one family, reconciled in love.
Peace, however, is not merely a gift to be received: it is also a task to be undertaken. In order to be true peacemakers, we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, in being active within the community and concerned to raise awareness about national and international issues and the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:9).
Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all, and no one can shirk this essential task of promoting justice, according to one’s particular areas of competence and responsibility. To the young, who have such a strong attachment to ideals, I extend a particular invitation to be patient and persevering in seeking justice and peace, in cultivating the taste for what is just and true, even when it involves sacrifice and swimming against the tide.
Raising one’s eyes to God
6. Before the difficult challenge of walking the paths of justice and peace, we may be tempted to ask, in the words of the Psalmist: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains: from where shall come my help?” (Ps 121:1).
To all, and to young people in particular, I wish to say emphatically: “It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true … an unconditional return to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?”(9) Love takes delight in truth, it is the force that enables us to make a commitment to truth, to justice, to peace, because it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-13).
Dear young people, you are a precious gift for society. Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems. Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm.
Realize that you yourselves are an example and an inspiration to adults, even more so to the extent that you seek to overcome injustice and corruption and strive to build a better future. Be aware of your potential; never become self-centred but work for a brighter future for all. You are never alone. The Church has confidence in you, follows you, encourages you and wishes to offer you the most precious gift she has: the opportunity to raise your eyes to God, to encounter Jesus Christ, who is himself justice and peace.
All you men and women throughout the world, who take to heart the cause of peace: peace is not a blessing already attained, but rather a goal to which each and all of us must aspire. Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey; let us work together to give our world a more humane and fraternal face; and let us feel a common responsibility towards present and future generations, especially in the task of training them to be people of peace and builders of peace. With these thoughts I offer my reflections and I appeal to everyone: let us pool our spiritual, moral and material resources for the great goal of “educating young people in justice and peace”.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2011
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA

EUROPE : COMECE CONFERENCE ON SOLIDARITY



COMECE and the Permanent Representation of the Republic
of Poland to the EU


Invite to a Conference on
Thursday 12 January 2012
A EUROPEAN COMMUNITY OF SOLIDARITY & RESPONSIBILITY
Presentation of the Statement of the COMECE Bishop on the EU Treaty Objective of a Competitive Social Market Economy


12:30-13:30 followed by a reception

Venue:
Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland
to the EU
Rue Stevin 139, 1000 Brussels
Presentation by
Cardinal Reinhard Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising
Vice-President of COMECE
Chairman of the COMECE Social Affairs Commission
Discussion with
a Representative of the Republic of Poland (tbc)
a Member of the European Parliament (tbc)
Moderator:
Sébastien Maillard
La Croix
Please register online before 10 January:

Conference on Social Market Economy
12.01.2012, Polish Representation, Rue Stevin 139, 1000 Brussels

AMERICA : CANADA : NEW BISHOP OF VALLEYFIELD QUEBEC


CCCB REPORT: His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, today, appointed the Most Reverend Noël Simard as Bishop of Valleyfield, Québec, succeeding the Most Reverend Luc Cyr, who was appointed Archbishop of Sherbrooke on July 26, 2011.
Bishop Simard was born on November 25, 1947, in the village of St-Aimé-des-Lacs, in the Charlevoix region of Québec, ordained to the Priesthood on May 28, 1972 and to the Episcopate on October 3, 2008, when he became Auxiliary Bishop of Sault Sainte-Marie. Until then, he had been a Professor of Moral Theology and Bioethics at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Prior to that, he taught at l’Université Laval in Québec and on a part-time basis at the University of Toronto in the field of Moral Theology. He is the current President of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (an organization founded by the CCCB) and State Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.
The Diocese of Valleyfield has a Catholic population of 199,390 and is served by 65 diocesan priests, 11 religious order priests and 17 permanent deacons. It has 25 parishes and missions.
http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/3257-new-bishop-of-valleyfield

AUSTRALIA : CHRISTMAS FROM THE NEW DOMUS

REPORT OF Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Dec 2011


Lots of decorations, last minute shopping and Christmas blessings shared around the world.
Domus Australia, a "Casa per ferie" or centre for Australian tourists and Catholic pilgrims to Rome, is about to celebrate its first Christmas.
Established by the Archdiocese of Sydney together with a number of other Australian dioceses, Domus Australia was officially opened by Pope Benedict XV1 in October.

Although the days are now cooler in Rome many tourists like to visit the Eternal City during Christmas to see the giant Christmas Tree in St Peter's Square and attend Midnight Mass at the Basilica.
And the Domus staff are also making a special effort in providing a Christmas welcome.

The General Manager, Gabriel Griffa, and his staff have been decorating Christmas Trees while Fr Anthony Denton has overseen the placement of a beautiful hand-crafted Nativity scene for the centre's chapel.
While Sydneysiders experience warmer - and hopefully drier - weather, Rome temperatures are falling and people are rugging up for the Holy Season but the message of the Birth of Christ is universal.
And in Rome at noon on Christmas Day the Holy Father is delivering his Christmas message from the window of his apartment overlooking St Peter's Square while hee in Sydney at noon on Christmas Day many families are preparing to sit down to lunch together.
Some will enjoy the traditional "hot turkey" dinner while others opt for the "prawns on the beach".
Wherever we are and whomever we are with we are encouraged to give thanks for the blessings we have, to think about those doing it tough, the homeless and less fortunate and in the new year consolidate the gains and remedy the defects.


http://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2011/20111223_1323.shtml

ASIA : INDIA : 4 ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS INJURES PEOPLE

ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Nirmala Carvalho
Three occurred on December 28 in different areas of the state, the fourth in the evening of the 25. With these number of attacks in Karnataka in 2011 rises to 49. Sajan George, "The Hindu radicals violate the human dignity of the Christian population."

Mangalore (AsiaNews) - Four new attacks by Hindu fundamentalists have disrupted the Christmas season for Christians in Karnataka. Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), calls them "a shame and a blot on the secular and democratic India", because "even if the fundamentalists do not respect the holy period of Christmas, they are proof that government and authorities are complicit in the persecution against Christians. " The first occurred on December 25 last, while the other three all occurred on the 28 in different areas of Karnataka. The number of accidents in the State has thus risen to 49 in 2011.

On Christmas Eve, about 20 activists of a local group, the Jagaran Vedike, attacked a family gathered at dinner. The Hindus have attacked men, women and children with sticks and stones, injuring them seriously and threatening their lives. Many of them were later hospitalized for fractures of the limbs and nose. The minister's wife suffered a serious chest wound. The activists fled immediately after the violence, while the police made a report but did not initiate investigations on the attackers.

On December 28 there were three separate incidents. In Maripalla, in Mangalore district, Hindu extremists set fire to the village crib. Christians immediately condemned the fire to the Bantwal police, who arrested two Hindu radicals. The men defended themselves saying that the Christians during the Christmas celebrations practiced forced conversions.

In Mulky (Mangalore), about 20 Hindu extremists wearing masks stopped the prayer service of the Pentecostal Church of God of Hebron. Armed with stones and sticks, the attackers destroyed windows, rooms and vehicles parked outside the building. The pastor I.D. Sanna was at home with his wife Sarah, children Abhishek and Prerna and five other people, but they were not harmed.

In the district of Davanagere some activists of Sriram Sene (local Hindu nationalist movement) entered the house of a member of the Pentecostal Church Divyadarsana Ministry. There they physically beat Pastor Raju Doddamani and those present, accusing them of practicing forced conversions. Then, the attackers called the Vidyanagar police, which brought out the Christians for questioning.

"The worst thing - Sajan K George said - is that Hindu extremists have perpetrated these heinous human rights violations against Christians. Above all, they violated their dignity as human beings invading the privacy of their homes, attacking women and children, desecrating the sanctity of the family, with physical and verbal abuse. "

The president of the GCIC concludes: "By granting these Hindu extremists impunity, the persecution of religious minorities will become an ordinary event. The Indian Constitution provides that 'all people have equal right to freedom of conscience and to profess, practice and propagate their religion'. Yet the violence shows the status of second class citizens granted to the Christian population. "

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Karnataka,-four-new-anti-Christian-attacks-23574.html

AFRICA : NIGERIA : 200 VICTIMS OF ATTACKS - DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE

Agenzia Fides REPORT - There are 200 victims, among people who died or are missing, due to the attacks directed at some Christian churches at Christmas in Nigeria. This is what said is read in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides signed by His Exc. Mgr. Ade Job, Archbishop of Ibadan and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria.
"We the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria are deeply saddened by the Christmas day bombings directed at some Christian churches, which include St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Minna diocese", the statement said.
"The death toll of people considered either dead or missing from the very unfortunate tragedy, is today feared to be about 200 people. Many of the wounded have now been hospitalized, while the Church edifice and other buildings around are in ruins", the statement continues.
The Nigerian Bishops also launch an appeal to the country's Islamic leadership: "Members of the Boko Haram sect (see Fides 29/12/2011) have claimed responsibility for this shameful crime against God and humanity. We use this opportunity to call on our peace loving Muslims especially their leaders from the political, economic, social and religious spectrums not only to publicly denounce these acts, but for their own good and good of Nigeria to be pro actives; and to do everything positive to end this movement".
"This group has apparently declared war on Nigeria and at times of war, nations are calling on their reserves. It is apparent that, if we depend only on our available active security agents, we shall not make much progress, I therefore, call on Mr. President to recall the retired experts in criminology and employ foreign experts in this field to assist the active security agents to put an immediate end to threat Boko Haram menace" writes Archbishop Job.
"Forgiveness is what the Lord Jesus has taught us that we might forgive this heinous crime against humanity, I call for a day of prayer, that all the faithful in Nigeria will pray and fast on December 31st, 2011. Pray for Nigeria in distress and pray for peace in our nation and pray for good Governance", concludes Mgr. Job. (L.M.)
http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=30677&lan=eng

TODAY'S SAINT : THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY



CHURCHYEAR REPORT: The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the family unit and the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The feast usually falls on the Sunday after Christmas. If Christmas is a Sunday, then the feast is celebrated on December 30th. In 2011, the feast falls on December 30th. Feast of the Holy Family Prayers: Prayers for Families and for the Feast of the Holy Family.

Basic Facts

Liturgical Color(s): White
Type of Holiday: Feast Day; Holy Day of Obligation (if on a Sunday)
Time of Year: The Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day; If both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30
Duration: One Day
Celebrates/Symbolizes: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Alternate Names: Holy Family Sunday
Scriptural References: Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:1-24, Psalm 128, Colossians 3:12-21.

Introduction

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, his mother Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the Canonical Scriptures. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple. Various non-canonical works, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, try to fill in the blanks. However, even though these apocryphal works may contain some truth from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus. While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.
Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, but one that naturally grows out of a love for Jesus and his family. The cult of the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century, and several religious congregations have been founded under this title. The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. On October 26, 1921 the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar. Until then it had been celebrated regionally (see History below). Popes before and including Benedict XV (especially Leo XIII) promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of God in the Catholic Church). If both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on December 30th. If the feast falls on the 30th, attendance is not obligatory. Up until 1969, the Holy Family feast was kept on the first Sunday after the Epiphany. It was transferred to its current date in 1969.

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church," and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit. In addition to cultivating positive actions, the Church understands that various actions and behaviors are contrary to God's Divine plan for the family, and these should be avoided. These include abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, polygamy, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, and co-habitation. Catholic Teaching is that a marriage must be open to children. Anything artificial that prevents this is contrary to divine law, although spacing births for a just reason is permitted (and may be licitly accomplished through "natural family planning"). Also, poverty, lack of health care, rights violations, government intrusion in the life of communities and families, and other justice concerns must be addressed by faithful Christians because of the negative effect these conditions have on the family unit. St. Paul gives us some advice on family life in Colossians 3:12-21:
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged (RSV).
The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit, and to evaluate our own family life. What ways may it be improved? What would Jesus, Mary, and Joseph do? Finally, we can use this feast to ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own cultures, neighborhoods, and communities.

History

In 1643 Louis and Barbe d'Ailleboust came to Canada in order to devote their lives to the welfare of the natives there. After her husband had passed away, Barbe, with the assistance of the Jesuit Father Chaumonot, founded the Confraternity of the Holy Family. The confraternity and devotion to the Holy Family spread all over Canada and had the effect of promoting good morals. Monsignor François de Laval invited her to Quebec, and gave her the general management if the confraternity, which still exists today. In 1675, the now Bishop de Laval had a little book printed in Paris instructing the members of the confraternity as to virtuous practices. Bishop de Laval also established the feast of the Holy Family, and had a mass and office drawn up which are proper to the Diocese of Québec. The feast was later added in 1921 to the General calendar of the Western Rite as a way to counteract the breakdown of the family. http://www.churchyear.net/holyfamily.html

TODAY'S GOSPEL AND MASS ONLINE : FRI. DEC. 30, 2011


Luke 2: 22 - 40
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord")
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,
28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;
30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
31 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him;
34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against
35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phan'u-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity,
37 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
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