The Holy Father's general intention is: "That public opinion may be more aware of the problems of millions of displaced persons and refugees, and that concrete solutions may be found for their often tragic situation."
His missionary intention is: "That those Christians who are discriminated against and persecuted in many countries because of the name of Christ may have their human rights, equality, and religious freedom recognized, in order to be able to live and profess their own faith freely."
This week's snippet comes from one of the most profound essays on the priesthood I have ever read, found here. It should really be read, savoured, prayed over and saved for rereading later. Here, Father John Cihak gives an excellent template for the relationship between women and priests.
"When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said..." (Jn. 19:26). It begins with a gaze from our Lord seeing His Mother and His priest...She hears, "Woman, behold your son" (Jn. 19:26). He calls her "Woman", not "Mom". Feel the distancing. These words must have been especially painful for her. As mother all she wants is to be close to Him and even to die with Him so that she can be close to Him. "Woman" isolates her from Him. He pushes her away, not in cruelty, but so that she can become the New Eve, the mother of all those who would live eternally. Her agony is the labor pains giving birth to the Church. Here the distinction between Our Lady and the Church, which should never be a separation, is perhaps a little more pronounced. Here she is giving birth to the Church, acting as Mother of the Church, through her interior agony.
St. John is at her side. It is no coincidence that a priest of the new covenant stands at the Cross with Jesus. St. John also is undergoing his own interior crucifixion, being conformed as priest to the Cross of the eternal High Priest. Perhaps we can sense St. John's helplessness. There is no worse feeling for a man than that of helplessness. What words could he utter seeing her in such agony? The sword piercing her Immaculate Heart is going through his priestly heart as well. This is not some heroic charge to victory. It is blackness, loneliness, a dark night; it is the whole messed-up incongruity of the collision between love and sin. It feels like and is death.
"Then Jesus says to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!'" (Jn. 19:27). At this moment, Jesus asks the Apostle in the depth of his own pain to attune himself to her. As priest, he must decide to put her first, attune himself to her heart. He must put her suffering ahead of his own. I imagine St. John turning toward Our Lady, and looking at her with such tenderness and reverence. Jesus sends His command deep into the heart of his priest, "Look at her...receive her...take care of her." As a man, he must feel helpless and inadequate, but now he has been given a manly task. St. John is commanded to care for her, to comfort her, to hold her, to protect her because she is so alone and vulnerable at that moment. Such a command would resonate deeply in the heart of such a man: he must look beyond his pain and accommodate himself to her, and have all that is best about being a man rise up within him in a great act of celibate agape. The choice to be attentive to her pain brings him to the threshold of entering into his spousal love and paternity as a celibate, as the Church is coming to birth.
I like to meditate on that scene, pondering the eyes of Our Lady and St. John as they meet in their mutual agony. Neither of them seems to have Jesus anymore. At that moment she needs St. John; she also allows him to help her. She is so alone at that moment. She who is sinless allows her great poverty of spirit to need this man and priest beside her. Her feminine complementarity draws out the best in St. John's masculine heart. The need for his support and protection must have connected to something deep within him as a man. How does he help her? St. John says that he then took her "into his own" (in Greek, eis ta idia). What does this mean? "His house," as many translations read? "His things"? What about "everything that he is"? Perhaps it indicates that he takes her into his life as a priest.
She also is supporting him. He is depending on her in that moment for he too is so alone. I wonder if he felt abandoned by the other apostles. She leads the way in sacrificing herself, for her feminine heart is more receptive and more attuned to Jesus'. She is not only present but leads the way for him, helping the priest to have his own heart pierced as well. There is much here to ponder as she engages his masculine love. He gives himself over to her, to cherish her and console her. At this moment she needs him and needs him to be strong, even if she is the one really supporting him.
The Blessed Virgin Mary's role is to call out of the priest this celibate agape to help him become a husband to the Church and a spiritual father—a strong father, even in his weakness. She does this at the Cross by drawing the priest out of his own pain to offer pure masculine love in the midst of her own pure feminine love. This scene becomes an icon of the relationship between the priest and the Church. The priest hands himself over to the Church in her suffering and need – to have his life shaped by hers. At the foot of the Cross the Church agonizes in labor to give birth to the members of the mystical body. I am struck by the next verse in this passage from the Gospel of St. John: "After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said... 'I thirst'" (Jn. 19:28). It was after this exchange of love at the foot of the Cross that "all was now finished".
A well-known political pundit has just lost his mother, and offered these words in tribute:
My dear friend and mother passed away this evening at 10:16 PM. She suffered a devastating heart attack 17 days ago. We put her on hospice late last week. She died at home in my arms. She was with her family.
This beautiful woman moved into my home in 2001. I was so blessed every day to watch her and care for her; to cook for her and clean for her. I was honored to serve her. I learned how to comb a woman's hair. I learned how to help a woman put on earrings. I learned how to care for someone else. I learned how to love more.
We watched TV together. We prayed together. We laughed. She had a wonderful sense of humor. It felt good to see her smile when I came home from work, just like when she smiled at me as a child. She would sometimes sit on the porch and wait for me. I was so lucky. It was fun to have the rest of the family, her other 8 children, over for the holidays. She loved to be with her sons and daughters, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was a blessing to care for this brilliant woman. My life will not be the same without her. I miss her dearly.
I'm not sure about therest of the siblings, but this testament is enough to show her overwhelming success as a mother. May she rest in peace.
Study: Turkish Women with Abortions Have Statistically Significant 66% Increase in Breast Cancer Risk / Researchers Likely Underestimated the Risk, Reports Scientist "I guess they didn't get the 'memo' from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), which declared back in 2003 that the non-existence of the ABC (abortion-breast cancer) link had been 'established'"! - Professor Joel Brind, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute A retrospective study conducted by Dr. Vahit Ozmen and his colleagues at the Istanbul Medical Faculty and Magee-Women's hospital reported a statistically significant 66% increase in breast cancer risk among women who'd had any abortions. According to Joel Brind, professor of endocrinology at Baruch College, City University of New York and a director at the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Ozmen's team most likely underestimated the breast cancer risk associated with abortion because of a flaw known as "selection bias." Selection bias would also explains their team's unusual findings - significantly decreased risks for women who use oral contraceptives (OCs) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The World Health Organization and the NCI acknowledge that use of combined (estrogen + progestin) OCs and combined HRT increase risk. Selection bias is a flaw in the study because only hospital or clinic patients were selected as study subjects, and they were therefore not representative of the general population. According to Brind's hypothesis, a disproportionate number of "modern" women were likely represented among the controls, a group more likely to use HRT and OCs, have abortions and visit the hospital often for minor complaints. By contrast, a disproportionate number of "traditional" women were represented among the patients; women less likely to use HRT and OCs, have abortions and visit the hospital (except in cases of serious illness, like breast cancer). To their credit, Dr. Ozmen et al. did acknowledge the likelihood of selection bias in their study, although they were not specific in attributing any effects on their results to it. Brind's analysis of Ozmen's research can be read here. "Although the NCI, the nation's largest funder of cancer-research, and others have worked feverishly to suppress the ABC link by publishing fraudulent research and even leaning on scientists whose studies have shown risk increases among women who have abortions, honest research occasionally escapes the NCI's purview," declared Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer. The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is an international women's organization founded to protect the health and save the lives of women by educating and providing information on abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer. References: 1. Ozmen et al. Breast cancer risk factors in Turkish women - a university hospital-based nested case control study. World J Surg Onc 2009;7:37. Available at: http://wjso.com/content/7/1/37.
No, not the American electoral system, but a graduation party for Daughter One at Club Kineke and second party here. One has real leis and burgers, the other virtual favours but real insights. Join us!
The Shrine of the Holy Whapping has some lovely images that illustrate the ancient understanding of the Church as Mother, which is the thesis of my book. My work was undertaken because I believe that there is enough tangible and practical guidance in that iconography to allow every women to find a path to holiness, no matter what her age or state in life. (As a convert, I was starkly aware of this missing paradigm outside of Catholicism.)
Many women's groups have already downloaded the accompanying study guide (free, just write to me at gskineke [at] yahoo [dot] com) and used it for a book study. Kindly consider it for your own group in the coming school year.
I shall try to honour "The Year for Priests" on Thursdays (the day on which the priesthood was instituted) with snippets from those who are serving the flock through Holy Orders. Today's piece comes from Father Edward Sequeira who lives in Orissa, India, where Christians have suffered greatly. He was beaten himself a year ago by a mob shouting, "Yesu Christi Murdabada", "kill Jesus Christ." Through their rage, they recognised the icon that he offered with his life.
The 25th anniversary of your priestly ordination during the Year for the Priest called by the Pope. How significant is this coincidence for you?
I am sure that God allowed these things to happen to me as a witness for the faith of the priests and for solidarity with the priests suffering for His name all over the world and also for the cause of the Church. A priest is called to be another Christ, ‘alter Christus’. Christ has suffered such physical torture, such humiliations, and we priests are ordained to serve in his footsteps. Christ has so abased Himself that He accepted everything; He exposed Himself to everything - to sacrilege, to blasphemy and to the cold indifference of so many people - in order to offer even one man the chance of hearing the beating of His Heart in His wounded side. This is the priest's identity: he is a direct and daily instrument of the saving grace which Christ has won for us. I am blessed and privileged to share, in a small way, in the suffering of Christ. I have not lost anything, nothing, even this persecution is only a gain, an incalculable gain.
More here, including how instrumental his mother's support has been. God bless this heroic witness and all priests. For an example of a prayer apostolate to support priests, kindly go here.