Por Berta Mexidor JACKSON – Como ya es tradición, en enero, la oficina de Caridades Católicas de Vardaman en el noreste de Mississippi realiza la Semana Nacional de Migración, en coordinación con los líderes pastorales del decanato V de la Diócesis de Jackson. Este año, durante los días 9 al 11 de enero, el tema “Promoviendo una Iglesia y un Mundo para Todos” fue tratado por la hermana Norma Pimentel, Misionera de Jesus. La hermana Pimentel, MJ. es la directora ejecutiva de Caridades Católicas de Rio Grande en Texas y recipiente del premio “Laetare Medal” de la Universidad de Notre Dame. Su trabajo de servicio a los inmigrantes, a través del “Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen”, Texas y los retos de éste, cerca de la frontera con Mexico, la han puesto más de una vez en la palestra nacional. El programa incluyó conferencias a las comunidades de Vardaman y Tupelo. El viernes 10 de enero, en Vardaman, asistieron entre otros, Wanda Thomas Directora Ejecutiva de Caridades Catolicas de Jackson, el padre Fred Ruse desde Florida, representantes de la Universidad de Mississippi de Oxford, y el profesor Robert Stewart, retirado de Delta State University y presidente de la Junta de Asesores de Caridades Catolicas en Vardaman.
Steward definió a la Hna. Pimentel como “…una mujer tranquila, que parece casi tímida, pero que tiene un aura de estabilidad y fuerza. Ella habla en voz baja pero claramente audible. Ella dice mucho,” y explica que “…Me impresionó su preocupación tanto por las personas cansadas y asustadas que buscan asilo en los Estados Unidos asi como por los diversos funcionarios del gobierno, incluidos los agentes de ICE y la Patrulla Fronteriza. Ella entiende que todos los involucrados pagan un precio emocional. “ Danna Johnson, coordinadora de Caridades Católicas en Vardaman, expresó que la celebración del evento”… fue un éxito en el esfuerzo al llamado, a todos los católicos y personas de buena voluntad, a tener un mejor entendimiento y apreciación de este importante tema que nos afecta a todos.”
Por Berta Mexidor y Joanna King JACKSON – “Dios no te abandona” fue el mensaje del cardenal Álvaro Ramazzini Imeri durante su visita a la diócesis de Jackson entre el 19 y el 21 de diciembre de 2019. Este mensaje fue recibido por cientos de personas, en su mayoría inmigrantes, que asistieron a sus charlas en las comunidades de Cartago, Canton y Forest que fueron afectadas luego de las redadas de inmigración en agosto de 2019 y que resultaron en más de 700 detenciones, donde muchos de los detenidos son ciudadanos guatemaltecos. El cardenal Ramazzini, de Huehuetenango, Guatemala y elegido al rango de cardenal en octubre por el Papa Francisco, es conocido por su ayuda y defensa de los derechos humanos para con los pobres de América Central. Durante su gira de amor y esperanza en Mississippi, el cardenal Ramazzini habló sobre la situación económica en Guatemala, que hace que muchos se vayan del país a buscar una vida mejor; y alentó en la fe a los afectados con los que se reunió, mientras que muchos enfrentan el proceso legal de deportación de los Estados Unidos. En una conferencia de prensa el 20 de diciembre, en la oficina de la diócesis en Jackson, con el obispo Joseph Kopacz, Joe Boland, vicepresidente de misión para Extensión Católica y el padre Roberto Mena, ST de St. Michael Forest, el cardenal Ramazzini explicó su posición con respecto al gobierno de EE. UU. Agradeció a los estadounidenses de todo el país su muestra de solidaridad y toda la ayuda humanitaria recibida de católicos y no católicos, por igual, a los afectados por las redadas.
En la conferencia, el cardenal Ramazzini dijo que aboga por una “política de migración con rostro humano”, para resolver las condiciones económicas que obligan a muchos a abandonar su país de origen y detener la costumbre donde los inmigrantes son tratados como delincuentes, aún sin tener antecedentes penales. El cardenal Ramazzini evaluó con el mismo peso a los gobiernos de Barack Obama y Donald Trump al aplicar las leyes de inmigración con “legalidad y poca justicia”. Además, denunció el trato inhumano de los inmigrantes cuando han sido esposados en sus lugares de trabajo frente a colegas y familias.
Al mismo tiempo, el cardenal Ramazzini criticó fuertemente al gobierno guatemalteco por su pobre modelo económico que deja a los nativos al borde de la desesperación. Durante su labor de concientización a lo largo de los años, ha explicado a los guatemaltecos el peligro de ponerse a sí mismos y a sus hijos en manos de “polleros” y “coyotes”. Después de la conferencia de prensa, el cardenal Ramazzini se reunió con feligreses en St. Anne Carthage, Sacred Heart Canton y St. Michael Forest. En cada una de las reuniones, agradeció a los sacerdotes que atendían a sus rebaños: el padre Odel Medina, ST, el padre Michael O’Brien y el padre Roberto Mena, ST. Los sacerdotes también le agradecieron su visita y le explicaron su trabajo con los feligreses y las familias afectadas por las redadas, lo que incluye mucho apoyo financiero ya que muchos no pueden trabajar, además de consolar a los feligreses a través del trauma experimentado por las redadas.
Durante su conversación con las comunidades, algunas familias afectadas compartieron lo que sufrieron en el momento de la detención, la vergüenza y la incertidumbre al momento de enfrentar un tribunal federal; pero también su esperanza para el futuro. También muchos comunicaron al cardenal Ramazzini su gratitud por el trabajo de los sacerdotes, religiosos, voluntarios y organizaciones benéficas católicas, quienes han hecho que esta vez sea un poco menos difícil y, por lo cual, no les ha faltado alimentos, ayuda y pagos financieros para mantener casa y servicios para sus familias. El cardenal Ramazzini mencionó que muchas personas que han ayudado a las familias afectadas son prueba de que Dios no deja a las personas solas. “En los momentos de prueba, la solidaridad y la ayuda de otros probaron que Dios no nos abandona”, dijo en su visita. Durante sus conversaciones con cada una de las parroquias en su conjunto, el cardenal Ramazzini comparó la situación de los inmigrantes arrestados en las redadas con Job, quien lo perdió todo y hasta quedó enfermo y solo. “…Este libro de Job puede ayudarnos a todos cuando pasamos por tiempos difíciles. Y Job le pregunta a Dios por qué está sufriendo. Y la respuesta de Dios fue y es ‘No te he abandonado, solo quería ver si eras fiel’ … Cuando todo va bien, nos olvidamos de Dios. No debería ser así, pero somos seres humanos…,” dijo el cardenal, y continuó. “Debemos estar seguros de que Dios no nos abandona, pero es muy fácil decir esto cuando todo está bien, pero después de estar en la cárcel, o ver a un miembro de la familia atrapado y pasar momentos difíciles, la gente siempre se pregunta en una situación así, ‘Dios, si eres amor, ¿por qué permites que sucedan cosas como esta?’ La tentación de la desesperación, de la falta de confianza en Dios, es muy grande … Le pido al Señor que no te deje caer en esa tentación porque, a pesar del momento difícil, Dios no nos abandona,” enfatizó el cardenal Ramazzini. Además de las conversaciones comunitarias, el cardenal Ramazzini participó con los feligreses pidiendo Posada en St. Anne Carthage y St. Michael Forest, una tradición antes de Navidad que representa a la Sagrada Familia en busca de refugio, hasta encontrar un lugar en un establo. Fue allí donde nació el hijo de Dios,”…para enseñarnos que entregarnos a los demás nos hace felices”, dijo el cardenal Ramazzini. Agregó que ser cristiano es ser coherente con la fe y ayudarse mutuamente, recalcando “… si usted cree que Dios es amor, ese, es el camino a seguir.”
Apoyo continuo para familias afectadas Durante su visita a Mississippi, el Cardenal Ramazzini recibió el compromiso continuo de miembros de Caridades Católicas Jackson, el Centro de Justicia de Mississippi, el Instituto Jesuita de Investigación Social, la Alianza de Derechos de Inmigrantes de Mississippi (MIRA) y otros grupos comunitarios, que han movilizado voluntarios para distribuir ayuda, ofrecer transporte para visitar a familiares detenidos y servicios de traducción para los tribunales. Extensión Católica, organización sin fines de lucro con sede en Chicago, que patrocinó la visita pastoral del cardenal Ramazzini, anunció, en la conferencia de prensa celebrada en la oficina de la Cancillería en diciembre 20 de 2019, su nueva iniciativa de salud mental a través de su “Fondo Holy Family” para proporcionar asesoramiento y otros servicios a las familias afectadas por las redadas. Esta iniciativa de Catholic Extension es una asociación entre el Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) de Miami y el Fondo Holy Family, un programa de ayuda a las familias en los Estados Unidos que dependen financieramente de un padre que ha sido detenido o deportado por razones de inmigración. A través del fondo, Catholic Extension ha garantizado el flujo de ayuda para apoyar .la entrega de recursos básicos a las iglesias que atienden las necesidades humanitarias y espirituales de las familias en Mississippi afectadas por la crisis causada por las redadas de ICE. “Las redadas, como la que vimos en Mississippi, causan un caos masivo para estas familias,” dijo Joe Boland, vice presidente de Extensión Católica. “Necesitamos continuar asegurándonos de que obtengan los recursos y servicios que necesitan para abordar el sufrimiento a largo plazo causado por un sistema en el que los padres son separados por la fuerza de sus hijos, y eso es lo que pretendemos hacer.” La iniciativa de salud mental se creó para aliviar el trauma y la ansiedad persistentes creados para los niños separados de sus padres debido a la detención o deportación. Este esfuerzo incluirá asesoramiento, atención pastoral, ayuda para la salud mental y otros servicios para abordar las consecuencias psicológicas que sufren las familias que han sido separadas. Durante la conferencia de prensa, Boland describió haber recibido una carta de un niño de 8 años de Morton después de las redadas. La madre del niño había estado detenida durante dos meses antes de ser puesta en libertad. El niño escribió: “Gracias por recordarnos, por no abandonarnos. … En el futuro, no se olviden de nosotros porque son los niños los que más sufren.” Se pueden hacer donaciones al Fondo Sagrada Familia para ayudar a lanzar y mantener este nuevo programa de salud mental en catholicextension.org/family
If God’s word could land on the fertile soil of our hearts and minds it would produce a harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.
By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
This weekend marks the first annual celebration of Sunday of the Word of God which will land every year on the third Sunday in Ordinary shortly after the conclusion of the Christmas season. There is not another Christian denomination that proclaims the Word of God as faithfully and comprehensively as does the Catholic Church, 365 days per year. Make that 366 days in 2020.
At the Saturday Vigil Masses and throughout the day on Sunday the People of God in the Catholic Church throughout the world hear four distinct scripture readings based on a three year cycle, two from the Old Testament, including a Psalm response, and two from the New Testament, culminating with a passage from one of the four gospels. If God’s word could land on the fertile soil of our hearts and minds it would produce a harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. The following scripture passages reveal God’s call and promises and the urgency to respond that goes out to the ends of the earth to all of the Lord’s disciples.
Solid foundation: “Everyone who listens to my words and acts on them will be like the wise who built their houses on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Jesus and his family: “Jesus was told, your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you. He said to them in reply in reply, my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8:20-21)
Lasting wealth: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
Power: “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, even able to discern thoughts and reflections of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Constant recourse to Sacred Scripture: “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” (2Timothy 3:16)
Promise, understanding and enlightenment: “How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I gain understanding; therefore, I hate all false ways. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 103-105)
The storehouse of grace: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52)
Indeed, the word of God is a lamp and a light for all that the Church believes, teaches and lives in every generation. The power underlying Martin Luther King’s prophetic call and action to the point of shedding his blood originated with the Old Testament prophets and surged throughout this land like Jesus announcing the Kingdom of God and the call to repentance. A sampling of the prophets follows.
Justice: God said, “I hate, I despise your feasts; I take no pleasure in your solemnities. Rather, let justice surge like waters, and righteousness like an unfailing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24)
Justice—Goodness—Humility: “You have been told, o mortal, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: only to do justice and love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Let us set things right: “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wrongs; hear the orphans plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right.” (Isaiah 1:16-18)
The Kingdom of Heaven: “For the kingdom of heaven is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)
This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade, that has made a wasteland of unborn life. The word of God, on the other hand, exalts the beauty of unborn life as the foundational reality for all stages of human life.
The elegance of creation: “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My bones are not hidden from you when I was being make in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)
The Call of Isaiah: “Before birth the Lord called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He said to me: You are my servant; in you I show my glory … Though I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength. Yet my right is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.” (Isaiah 49:1, 3-4)
The Call of Jeremiah: “The word of the Lord came to me: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-6)
John the Baptist encounters Jesus: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment that the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leapt for joy.” (Luke 1:41-44)
Indeed, the word of God, the Bible, is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path, both in our personal lives and in our quest for the Kingdom of God in this world. With the right to life of the unborn as the foundational life issue, we embrace the entire drama of the human condition from beginning to end. May our love for what is just, true and good find their origin in God’s holy word and proceeding through nearly 2000 years of our Church’s tradition, may we embrace our vision for life as a good scribble in the Kingdom of Heaven who can take from the storehouse of treasures both the old and the new. We give thanks for all who labor in our generation for a world on behalf of life, justice and peace.
By Carol Glatz ROME (CNS) – In asking to be baptized, Jesus exemplifies the Christian calling to follow along the path of humility and meekness rather than strutting about and being a showoff, Pope Francis said. Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 12, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the pope said that Christ’s humble act shows “the attitude of simplicity, respect, moderation and concealment required of the Lord’s disciples today.” “How many – it’s sad to say – of the Lord’s disciples show off about being disciples of the Lord. A person who shows off isn’t a good disciple. A good disciple is humble, meek, one who does good without letting himself or herself be seen,” Pope Francis said during his midday Angelus address. The pope began the day celebrating Mass and baptizing 32 babies –17 boys and 15 girls – in the Sistine Chapel. In his brief homily before baptizing the infants, the pope told parents that the sacrament is a treasure that gives children “the strength of the Spirit.”
“That is why it’s so important to baptize children, so that they grow with the strength of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “This is the message that I would like to give you today. You have brought your children here today so that they may have the Holy Spirit within them. Take care that they grow with the light, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, through catechesis, through helping them, through teaching them, through the examples that you will give them at home,” he said. As the sounds of fussy children filled the frescoed chapel, the pope repeated his usual advice to mothers of infants, encouraging them to make their children comfortable, and to not worry if they start to cry in the chapel. “Don’t get upset; let the children cry and scream. But, if your child cries and complains, perhaps it’s because they feel too hot,” he said. “Take something off them, or if they are hungry, breastfeed them; here, yes, always in peace.” Later, before praying the Angelus with pilgrims, Pope Francis said that the feast of the Lord’s baptism “reminds us of our own baptism,” and he asked the pilgrims to find out the date they were baptized. “Celebrate the date of your baptism every year in your heart. Do it. It is also a duty of justice to the Lord who has been so good to us,” the pope said.
It’s not often an Alabama alumnus uses an LSU football analogy, so be sure to read this:
If we don’t make time for prayer as a Catholic community, then we will continue to struggle bring forth men and women for priesthood and religious life. Young people must be taught not just how to pray, but how to build a habit of prayer. This way they can discern the things of the world and discover amongst the noise what God is calling them to do, not just what they think would bring about the most security.
Now for my LSU football analogy to drive this point home: The best quarterbacks do not always make the safe throw. The best quarterbacks push the ball down the field, recognizing that sometimes the defense could get the better of them, but they make throws that win games. Joe Burrow is a great example. Last year, he sought the safe throws, and LSU was mediocre. This year, he trusted his coaches and his gifts and took risks, and LSU morphed into an historically great team.
Prayer brings forth greatness, not in the eyes of the culture, but in the eyes of God. Jesus Christ made choices that were impossible to comprehend to the outside observer, but because he was rooted in relationship with his heavenly Father, his choices led to triumph.
Our screens are loud. Talking heads are loud. They are convincing. So how much time are we spending away from those sources and listening to the Lord in the silence of prayer? I know the arguments, because I present them to my own spiritual director all the time! “I am too busy right now to pray, it is impossible.” For busy families, silence is at even more of a premium. But we make time for other pursuits, and we simply must make time for prayer. And it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming amount. So much of our life is built on the habits that we have. It is easy to make time for youth sporting events and other activities, because we are in the habit of doing them. They are what everyone does. So why isn’t prayer one of these habits for many families? Why does it seem so abnormal?
So, if you have not been praying – start. And you don’t have to pray a crazy amount. Just start by reading one chapter of the gospel per day and spend as much time as you can in silence as you read. Consider your life in light of Jesus’ words and actions, and close it with a Glory be to the Father. The more you build up the habit, the more you will be attracted to silence and reflection and conversation with the Lord, and the more you will make time for it. And don’t strive just for security and comfort. Listen to what God wants you to do, he created you, you can trust Him.
By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Most of us have heard of St. Therese of Lisieux, a French mystic who died at age 24 in 1897 and who is perhaps the most popular saint of the last two centuries. She’s famous for many things, not least for a spirituality she called her “little way.”
Popular thought has often encrusted both Therese and her “little way” within a simple piety which doesn’t do justice to the depth of her person or her spirituality. Too often her “little way” is understood simply to mean that we do little, hidden, humble, acts of charity for others in the name of Jesus, without expecting anything in return. In this popular interpretation we do the laundry, peel potatoes, and smile at unpleasant people to please Jesus. In some ways, of course, this is true; however her “little way” merits a deeper understanding.
Yes, it does ask us to do humble chores and be nice to each other in the name of Jesus but there are deeper dimensions to it. Her “little way” is a path to sanctity based on three things: littleness, anonymity and a particular motivation.
Littleness: For Therese “littleness” does not refer first of all to the littleness of the act that we are doing, like the humble tasks of doing the laundry, peeling potatoes or giving a simple smile to someone who’s unpleasant. It refers to our own littleness, to our own radical poverty before God. Before God, we are little. To accept and act out of that constitutes humility. We move towards God and others in her “little way” when we do small acts of charity for others, not out of our strength and the virtue we feel at that moment, but rather out of a poverty, powerlessness and emptiness that allows God’s grace to work through us so that in doing what we’re doing we’re drawing others to God and not to ourselves.
As well, our littleness makes us aware that, for the most part, we cannot do the big things that shape world history. But we can change the world more humbly, by sowing a hidden seed, by being a hidden antibiotic of health inside the soul of humanity and by splitting the atom of love inside our own selves. And yes, too, the “little way” is about doing little, humble, hidden things.
Anonymity: Therese’s “little way” refers to what’s hidden, to what’s done in secret, so that what the Father sees in secret will be rewarded in secret. And what’s hidden is not our act of charity, but we, ourselves, who are doing the act. In Therese’s “little way” our little acts of charity will go mostly unnoticed, will seemingly have no real impact on world history and won’t bring us any recognition. They’ll remain hidden and unnoticed; but inside the Body of Christ what’s hidden, selfless, unnoticed, self-effacing, and seemingly insignificant and unimportant is the most vital vehicle of all for grace at a deeper level. Just as Jesus did not save us through sensational miracles and headline-making deeds but through selfless obedience to his Father and quiet martyrdom, our deeds too can remain unknown so that our deaths and the spirit we leave behind can become our real fruitfulness.
Finally, her “little way” is predicated on a particular motivation. We are invited to act out of our littleness and anonymity and do small acts of love and service to others for a particular reason, that is, to, metaphorically, wipe the face of the suffering Christ. How so?
Therese of Lisieux was an extremely blessed and gifted person. Despite a lot of tragedy in her early life, she was (by her own admission and testimony of others) loved in a way that was so pure, so deep and so wonderfully affectionate that it leaves most people in envy. She was also a very attractive child and was bathed in love and security inside an extended family within which her every smile and tear were noticed, honored and often photographed. But as she grew in maturity it didn’t take her long to notice that what was true in her life wasn’t true of most others. Their smiles and tears went mostly unnoticed and were not honored. Her “little way” is therefore predicated on this particular motivation.
In her own words: “One Sunday, looking at a picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I was struck by the blood flowing from one of his divine hands. I felt a pang of great sorrow when thinking this blood was falling on the ground without anyone’s hastening to gather it up. I was resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross and to receive its dew. … Oh, I don’t want this precious blood to be lost. I shall spend my life gathering it up for the good of souls. … To live from love is to dry Your Face.”
To live her “little way” is to notice and honor the unnoticed tears falling from the suffering faces of others.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He can be contacted through his website www.ronrolheiser.com. Now on Facebook www.facebook.com/ronrolheiser)
By Richard Szczepanowski WASHINGTON (CNS) – The oven timer dings, alerting Capuchin Franciscan Brother Andrew Corriente the chocolate layer cake he is baking needs to be checked. A quick test with a toothpick tells him the cake needs about five more minutes in the oven, more than enough time for him to soften the butter that will eventually become the buttercream icing that will top the confection. The enticing aromas in the kitchen at Capuchin College in Washington signal that Brother Andrew is busy creating another treat for the men who call the friary home. Brother Andrew knows his way around a kitchen. In fact, he was crowned this year’s baking champion on ABC’s “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition.” The program, which aired during the month of December and concluded Jan. 2, is an adaptation of the wildly popular “Great British Bake Off.” Brother Andrew said he wanted to participate in the program “because I love to bake, and I wanted to learn from the others” who were part of the production. “They were very good, incredible cooks,” the brother said of his competition. Several of them have since become good friends of his. “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition,” now in its fifth season, features 10 amateur bakers who compete in a series of challenges in which they must produce outstanding baked goods. Contestants are eliminated one by one until a champion is selected. Brother Andrew emerged as the victor after he and the other two finalists were charged with making three individual party desserts of their choice. He earned the crown with chocolate cookies with lime cream and blackberry jam, sponge cakes with fresh cream and fruits, and a puff pastry. Brother Andrew was given the nod to appear on the show last June, but he applied for the program in 2017.
“In 2018, they (producers of the show) called me, but I said no because I was taking my final vows,” he told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington. “They called me again this year, and I did it.” He said he spent the month of July “recipe developing and recipe testing” before traveling to London in August, where the entire season was taped over the course of that month. “Filming sometimes took up to 14 hours a day,” Brother Andrew said. “I had to stay focused so that I could get my prayers in, Mass in and meditation in.” Although it was very hot in the kitchen where the contestants competed, Brother Andrew chose to wear his distinctive brown Capuchin robes as he baked. “I love my life so much, and I wanted people to see that,” he said. “My ability to bake is so tied to my way of life. Everything I have is from God, and I wanted people to see how all of that is integrated.” The friary where Brother Andrew regularly creates his bakery masterpieces is part of the St. Augustine Province of the Order of Friars Minor. The 30 men who live at Capuchin College are either studying nearby at The Catholic University of America, preparing for the priesthood, serving in various ministries throughout the Archdiocese of Washington or are retired. Capuchin Franciscan Father Paul Dressler, the province’s guardian and director of formation at Capuchin College, called Brother Andrew’s appearance on the program “part of the new evangelization.” “Brother Andrew wanted to be on the show as a witness. He went to evangelize and put before the world the Gospel and our order,” Father Dressler said.
Capuchin Father Tom Betz, the provincial of the St. Augustine Province, gave the nod and Brother Andrew was on his way. “Brother Andrew brought attention to the goodness of God and the goodness of religious life,” Father Dressler said. He added that it is not unusual for a religious to be familiar in the kitchen. “Religious life has long been a source of nourishment,” Father Dressler said. He also pointed to the ancient tradition of monks brewing beer, making wine and even giving coffee lovers everywhere the eponymous cappuccino. “It is connected to the fact that all good things come from God,” Father Dressler said. In episode four of “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition,” Brother Andrew struggled with the challenge of creating a cheesecake tower with at least three tiers, with two of one flavor and one of a different flavor. As he struggled to construct his tower, Brother Andrew stopped, lifted his hands in prayer and uttered the word, “surrender.” Brother Andrew is a third-year seminarian. After studying filmmaking in college, the now 31-year-old native of California, “had a desk job in the entertainment industry,” working for a talent agent. “I was searching for other jobs, but never thought about religious life,” he said. “A friend of mine from college became a nun, and when I went to see her profess her vows, I met a Capuchin.” That spurred Brother Andrew to give the order a try. “I met the guys, and the rest is history,” he said. Brother Andrew regularly bakes for the residents of the friary and one of his specialties is “kouign amann,” a French pastry made with multiple layers of buttery croissant pastry caramelized with slightly burnt sugar. Baking, he said, “is in a way eucharistic.” “Jesus gave us himself in the bread and wine,” Brother Andrew said. “For me, I put myself out there with my cooking. It is kind of a sacrificial love.” His interest in baking, he added, was spurred during his postulancy. Brother Andrew said he finds time for prayer as he cooks. For example, in preparing meringue – a confection made of whipped egg whites and sugar – he discovered “the best way to time my stirring is by praying the Hail Mary.” The “guys,” as Brother Andrew calls his fellow Capuchins, sent their favorite baker off to compete in London with “a really nice blessing and prayer.” Brother Andrew’s family – mother Elna, father Rodel and sister Theresa – flew to London to watch the finale. When he won, Brother Andrew was sworn to secrecy; for more than four months he was not allowed to tell others that he had won. The residents of the friary would gather each week to watch the show together, cheering their brother on. Father Dressler said it was akin to watching the Super Bowl. The friary, he said, exploded with whoops and shouts and cheers when Brother Andrew was named the winner. In addition to his baking, Brother Andrew uses his culinary skills to help the less fortunate and the working poor. He and a group of brothers and lay volunteers cook and serve dinner every Sunday for the day laborers who congregate at a local Home Depot looking for work. After he is ordained to the priesthood in two years, Brother Andrew is unsure whether his priestly vocation will permit him as much time to pursue his baking avocation. “God has already zigzagged my life in so many ways that I am open to anywhere he leads me,” he said.
(Szczepanowski is managing editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.)
By Sister Constance Veit, LSP
During February my thoughts turn to two of my favorite biblical figures, Simeon and Anna.
Simeon is described in St. Luke’s Gospel simply as “a man in Jerusalem” and Anna as an 84-year-old “prophetess.” These two elders greet Mary and Joseph as they bring their newborn infant to the Temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. We celebrate this moment in Jesus’ life, referred to as the Presentation in the Temple, on February 2.
Simeon and Anna are not just two pious old people making a fuss over a baby. Each one had been waiting for the coming of the Lord for many years. Their whole lives were defined by their patient, prayerful waiting. When the moment came, they recognized Jesus as the Messiah and testified on his behalf before all the people.
Pope Francis wrote, “When Mary and Joseph reached the temple to fulfill the law, Simeon and Anna jumped to their feet. They were moved by the Holy Spirit. This elderly couple recognized the child and discovered a new inner strength that allowed them to bear witness.”
Simeon and Anna have an important message for our time. They represent the crucial role of older people who “have the courage to dream,” as Pope Francis said. “Only if our grandparents have the courage to dream and our young people imagine great things will our society go on.” Francis believes that older people who dream are able to move forward creatively as they envision a future.
“Without the witness of their elders’ lives, the plans of young people will have neither roots nor wisdom,” he said. “Today more than ever, the future generates anxiety, insecurity, mistrust and fear. Only the testimony of elders will help young people look above the horizon to see the stars. Just learning that it is worth fighting for something will help young people face the future with hope.”
We Little Sisters are privileged to share our lives with many successors of Simeon and Anna – older people who have persevered in their faith through the years as they sought a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
Among them is a woman I know who poured her life-savings into the rehabilitation of a child stuck in the cycle of drug addiction, and who later sacrificed her own comfort to support three generations of her family members who were displaced after a hurricane ravaged their island home.
Another resident, a tiny woman in her mid-80’s, divides her time between helping in our chapel and working in the parish founded by her priest-brother – the only Vietnamese parish in our diocese – helping with sundry tasks and taking Holy Communion to the sick.
I recently attended Mass at this Vietnamese parish as part of our annual fund raising appeal and enjoyed seeing our resident in action. While she and many of the women of the parish wore their traditional Vietnamese tunics and flowing pants in bright hues and varied designs, most of the young people came to church in the jeans, yoga pants and baggy sweatshirts typical of American youth.
The liturgy was completely in Vietnamese. I saw what a fine line these young people walk – with one foot planted firmly in the land of their parents and grandparents and the other in America.
I was touched to see that even the young people venerated our resident. As she scurried around the church attending to many details, she would give the young people a quick word of direction in Vietnamese or a charming smile of encouragement.
Our residents embody Pope Francis’ dream of elders as “a choir of a great spiritual sanctuary, where prayers of supplication and songs of praise support the larger community that works and struggles in the field of life.”
Although I am not yet a senior it won’t be long before I am, and I am grateful for the example of our residents who, like Simeon and Anna, are teaching me how to assume the mantle of a wise elder in the believing community.
(Sister Constance Veit is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor. )
From the hermitage
By sister alies therese
It is Catholic Schools Week and where do we find ourselves and Jesus? He was 12, just a tween on the verge of teenager-ness. We are almost a month in from the coming of Jesus at the nativity, celebrating the shepherds, Wise Men and Jesus the refugee into Egypt. We have seen Anna and Simeon with Jesus for the first time in the Temple where He is “recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the light of the nations, and the glory of Israel, but also a sign that is spoken against. The sword of sorrow promised to Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the Cross that will impart the salvation God had prepared in the presence of all peoples.” (530) We have also celebrated His return to Nazareth, not Bethlehem, and the Holy Family’s life together. Curiously, however, we have no more information until this story breaks into the ‘hidden life.’
The Catholic Catechism lets us know that He, like other boys His age, would have been spending a “daily life without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of an obedient Jew to the law of God, a life in the community … it is revealed to us that Jesus was obedient to His parents and that He increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and the human community.” (531)
Remembering age 12, in the seventh grade, I too was without evident greatness, but avoided manual labor and was not that obedient to my parents! Oops. It was the year I was preparing to be confirmed, tackling many new subjects at middle school and was pretty good at sports. I also began to feel a call to religious life. I attended CCD at the local Catholic school where the Sisters taught us. Being a high introvert, however, I took a page from Mary’s book and ‘pondered these things in my heart.’
Did Jesus really make little clay birds fly for His friends in the village? This and other stories floated around trying to disavow the ‘humanness’ of Jesus. Or should I say, tried to take away any of the things passed down by Mary’s side of the family? For Jesus to show how He is ultimately ‘Savior,” He needs all that was human as well as God. Personally, I vote no on the clay birds flying.
Some 12-year old’s are very bright and perceptive. Twelve is not a child. In Jewish tradition, it’s time for bar or bat mitzvah, admitting the young person into the adult community. Today with so much screen time, a 12-year-old is either much brighter and smarter than we were, or very much more sluggish. I’ve met both. But are they ‘wise?’ What transpires in each of our hidden lives?
Jesus is supposed to be returning home after the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem. Look at Luke 2:41 and read the whole story. Since Jesus was considered almost an adult, He probably didn’t spend a lot of time with His parents during the feast. Some NIV notes indicated that 12-year old’s could be in a caravan with their parents or as with Jesus, thought to be in the other caravan with the men. But, when the caravan did leave Jerusalem, He stayed behind because he had been talking and listening to the teachers and they were listening to Him. During Passover, the greatest Rabbis were there, and they assembled people and had master classes of sorts and long discussions. The coming of the Messiah was a big topic and perhaps this interested Jesus. The notes from the NIV conclude, it was not Jesus’ youth that impressed them, “but His wisdom.”
St. Pope Paul VI, spoke at Nazareth in 1964, on the Feast of the Holy Family: “The home at Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus — the school of the Gospel. First a lesson of silence… A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love … A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the ‘Carpenter’s Son,’ I would understand the redeeming law of human work … I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern, their brother who is God.” (533)
So, students who are you learning from? Are you paying attention to those who can assist and help you move forward into your vocation as these Rabbis helped the young man Jesus that you will be of service? Don’t be afraid to be serious about your search – listen and learn. And, families, often very broken and in pain, remember that love is the bottom line in the Holy Family or in your ‘Holy’ family. Brokenness lets the light through and I dare say often brings wisdom.
(Sister alies therese is a vowed Catholic solitary who lives an eremitical life. Her days are formed around prayer, art and writing. She is author of six books of spiritual fiction and is a weekly columnist. She lives and writes in Mississippi.)
By John Mulderig NEW YORK (CNS) – In “The Two Popes” (Netflix), their glossy but highly speculative account of supposedly real events, screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Fernando Meirelles ill-advisedly try to extol Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) by trashing retired Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins). They even go so far as to give brief screen time to two people who label the pontiff emeritus a Nazi. We know what we’re in for early on as, in the wake of the death of St. John Paul II, then-Cardinal Ratzinger swans around the conclave practically begging his peers to elect him. In fact, it’s pretty well established that he would have much preferred to be left in peace to read his books and play Mozart on the piano.
Flash forward to the main encounter with which the film is concerned, a visit to the Vatican by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio shortly before his predecessor’s 2013 resignation. By now, the portrayal of Benedict is that of a doddering old buffer so out of touch with the realities of modern life that he has only a vague conception of who the Beatles are. (An earlier scene has hipster Bergoglio, by contrast, whistling Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”) The filmmakers somewhat counterbalance their hatchet job on Benedict by an extended sequence of flashbacks showing Jesuit Father Bergoglio’s quasi-collaborationist approach to the brutal military regime that came to power in Argentina following a 1976 coup d’etat. They seem to imagine that they have acquired a clarity and certainty about the details of the situation in question that has evaded many others. Be that as it may, when it comes to the two pontificates, their bias is more than apparent. Informed Catholic moviegoers will wince at a series of distortions, some of which are downright weird. The future Francis says, for instance, that there was no mention of angels in the church until the fifth century. That will certainly come as a surprise to anyone conversant with the New Testament. The dialogue also has Cardinal Bergoglio informing Pope Benedict that God changes, an obviously heretical statement. The gravest misrepresentation, however, comes when the script implies that Benedict covered up for the now-notorious founder of the Legion of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel. That monstrous hypocrite may have successfully duped St. John Paul, but Cardinal Ratzinger was a leading force in the revelation of his wrongdoing and, as pope, ordered him to relinquish all ministry and lead a life of penitence and prayer. Fine performances by the leads and high production values do not compensate adequately for a fast and loose version of recent – or ancient – church history. Still, “The Two Popes” is not without its charming moments. The concluding scenes, in particular, which find Francis and Benedict watching the World Cup soccer championship together, are touching as well as humorous. But much of the preceding material remains problematic. The film contains themes requiring mature discernment, scenes of violence, a few sexual references, one mild profanity and a single crass term. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
(Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.)