Tag Archives: Christmas

Latest bishops’ health care directives stress Catholic witness

The ethical and religious Directives for Health Care Services, authored by the U.S. Catholic bishops, is a valuable and unique document. First published in 1971 and now in its sixth edition, this 42-page pamphlet contains specific directions for Catholic patients, physicians, and health care facilities on a wide range of moral issues. The work is divided into six sections devoted to the topics of social responsibility, pastoral care, the professional-patient relationship, the beginning of life, the end of life, and collaborative arrangements between Catholic and non-Catholic health care providers.

The Vatican has published a similar document, though in a very different form, called Charter for Health Care Workers. This appeared in 1994 and was revised in 2016. Remarkably, the American document preceded it by more than 20 years and has been the subject of much more intensive revisions. The two works stand in agreement, of course, but that produced by the U.S. bishops is much more practical in character, with each directive dedicated to a single point of concern; for example, directive 49: “For a proportionate reason, labor may be induced after the fetus is viable.”

Catholic bioethicists must think about how to apply these directives in particular cases. The directives therefore are a subject of constant scholarly debate and sometimes receive different interpretations, but what is noteworthy is that such detailed moral guidance is available. No other religious tradition has such a resource. The existence of the directives reflects the long-standing concern within the Catholic Church for resolving medical-moral questions. Though designed for Catholic health care centers, every Catholic would be well advised to have some knowledge of this small but important booklet because all of us will likely face some serious medical question during our lifetime.

The most recent revision introduces changes only to the last section, “Collaborative Arrangements with Other Health Care Organizations and Providers.” As everyone knows, we live in a time of intense competition among health care centers. The pressure for consolidation and the need to find collaborative partners is common for Catholic institutions as well. These arrangements can be very complex and often pose significant moral challenges. The secular world does not see the human person in the same way as does the Catholic Church. Indeed, the writing of the directives first became necessary when mainstream medical practice diverged in significant ways from what was once the nation’s common moral code.

The most striking change in the sixth edition is its emphasis on “witness.” The new edition stresses that Catholic health care institutions must be able to maintain their witness to Christ and His saving mission in any collaborative venture with a non-Catholic partner. This may seem an obvious point, but health care delivery is big business and the pressure to conform to a secular worldview is enormous. When millions of dollars are at stake — not to mention hundreds, if not thousands of employees’ jobs — tremendous courage is needed to negotiate agreements that are not only financially attractive for the Catholic party but that also preserve the Christian mission to act as a witness to the faith.

Caring for the sick is one of the mandates of Christ, but this aim can also be achieved incidentally by secular institutions whose primary aim is often the mammon of corporate profit rather than the mercy of corporal works. There are many who labor in health care who are not Christians and some who have no faith at all. They do not witness, despite the fact that they share in our mission of healing. We work alongside them, but as Christians we know that all things in this life are ordered to the next. The call to witness makes the presence of Christ known to the world so that this message of salvation can be heard.

EDWARD J. FURTON, PH.D., is director of publications for the National Catholic Bioethics Center (Philadelphia), and among its team of seven ethicists. He’s editor-in-chief of NCBC’s award-winning National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly and Ethics & Medics.

Extend Christmas joy, right from your kitchen

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! People are generally trying to be more attentive to others. There’s an aura that warms their hearts. The joy of Christmas awakens consciousness to give of oneself.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it beautifully in a 2005 homily: “Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money. We can transmit this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God’s liberating joy will shine out in our lives.”

My ancestors in Italy embodied this through the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, keeping in mind what this custom signifies.

Tradition holds that it represents the seven sacraments. Leave it to the Italians to teach the Faith with food! Nourishing our souls with the sacraments allows others to recognize the joy of Christmas within us, just as when the disciples recognized the resurrected Christ in the breaking of the Bread at the supper at Emmaus.

The urgency for Christmas should be to keep the joy of Christ’s coming alive all year. It can be done if we accompany those little acts of charity with a deeper, committed prayer life. A well-nurtured personal prayer life keeps charity growing within us, radiating as an external joy of Christ that others can absorb from us. During the Christmas season we tend to pay more attention to prayer and the sacraments. But once we get back to our regular routine, for some that extra prayer effort gets diminished or forgotten. This challenge can be overcome if one understands that: Non potest quis id quod non habet [one cannot give what one does not have]. Simply put: if one does not have Christ’s joy within, he cannot extend it!

In availing ourselves of the sacraments this season, especially the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and keeping a simple prayer life like reading the Bible, or reciting the rosary, we will keep the joy of Christ alive in us all year. Without any great effort, we can bring the joy of Christ to others. His joy will radiate through all our good deeds and actions. Buon Natale!

 

Ragu d’Astice (Lobster Ragu) • serves 4

Ingredients:
4 – 8oz. lobster tails*
1 lb. fusilli pasta cooked al dente
1 25 oz. jar Cucina Antica Garlic Marinara Cooking Sauce or sauce of your choice
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 cup white onion, finely minced
1⁄2 cup white wine
2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 pinches hot red pepper flakes Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Prepare lobster tails: crack tail and loosen meat from shell without detaching from tail.

In a 10-12” deep sauté pan, combine extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and onions. Sauté on medium heat until garlic is light golden and onions translucent.

Add lobster meat and tails, white wine, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to pan. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add cooking sauce to pan. Simmer low 3 minutes until tails turn red, meat turns white.

Cover; cook with lid askew for 3 minutes on low until meat is cooked through (make sure to not overcook lobster).

Cook the pasta al dente, drain it, and add in 1 cup of lobster ragu from saute pan to prevent pasta from sticking. Stir to mix well.

Plate pasta, top with lobster ragu, and garnish with chopped parsley.

*Optional: remove lobster shell before serving or leave to add to presentation. For a true Feast of the Seven Fishes, substitute any or all of the following: mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, scallops, lobster, king crab.

 

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.

How truth regarding Jesus’ birth affects us today

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” — John 3:16

During this wondrous season, while Christians around the world proclaim the most significant event in human history, that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” its real significance is often missed.

Have you ever stopped to think about the deeper meaning of the Incarnation and Nativity of Jesus? His birth was the birth of the most unique Person in history – the incarnation of God Himself, the mingling of God with humanity. As the greatest testimony of His love, the Father has His only Son become man to heal us from everything that separates us from Him – to save us from our sins. In this way, Jesus merits for us the dignity of becoming children of God, allowing us to cry out, Abba Father.

This great love story is retold every year and portrayed in the Christmas creche, which focuses our reflection, contemplation, and gratitude upon the wonder and beauty of our Savior’s birth. It is hard to imagine Christmas without this humble scene and its profound teaching of the heavenly Father’s love for His children.

The origin of the Christmas creche rests with St. Francis of Assisi. It is said that St. Francis lived daily with great joy the wonder and awe of the Incarnation of the Son of God and His blessed and humble birth. The meek saint would often shed tears of heartfelt gratitude, praising the divine Son who took upon Himself our human nature to reveal His Father and to reconcile all things and destroy the power of sin and death forever.

This event is the central moment in human history, which has changed forever our understanding of earthly realities. One reality is how we look upon the sanctity of human life. Jesus’ body was formed in the womb of Mary: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The eternal Son of God came into the world in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, thus blessing the womb of every woman and the precious life of every child. The ministry of Jesus didn’t begin at His birth but at His conception.

Despite this, life at every stage – from conception to natural death – is under siege. We cry and protest for the children who are impeded from being born, for the millions of children born and left to die from hunger and sickness, for the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and the disabled. Yet, amid our weary struggle with these injustices, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the wonder of the Incarnation, its significance, and its power to tranform:

“The action of God, in fact, is not limited to words, indeed we might say he is not content only to speak but is immersed in our history and takes on the fatigue and weight of human life.”

The unapproachable God became approachable and is fully expressed – a God of love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, compassion, and glory. If we lose perspective on the essential truths that are bound up in the Incarnation and Nativity of the Lord Jesus, we lose sight of the Gospel and its revealed truth about life, the human person, and our eternal destiny.

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International www.hli.org and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.

The Reason for the Seasons: Why Christians Celebrate What and When They Do

James V. Schall, S.J.
Sophia Institute Press, 304 pages


“We cannot be joyful without ultimately knowing why we should be joyful, without having something to be joyful about,” writes Fr. Schall, and so the feasts of the liturgical year invite us to “wonder” so as to experience “an awe that is fully aware of the truth that makes us free.” This collection of essays by the eminent Jesuit scholar reflects on the Church’s major observances, primarily Christmas and the seasons from Lent through Pentecost, but also the key Marian feasts, All Saints, All Souls, and even a touch of Ordinary Time. As always, Fr. Schall provides nourishment for both mind and soul.

Order: Amazon

The Savior arrives as a baby

Christmas could rightly be called the holiday of the senses.

It is the season of lights and tinsel, choirs and carols, the aroma of evergreen and roasting chestnuts. Christmas comes to us with sumptuous meals, hearty laughter, and kisses beneath the mistletoe. Christmas scenes — by the old masters and by modern advertisers — decorate the walls of museums, billboards on the roadside, and cards in the mailbox. For nearly 2,000 years, the world has marked the birth of Jesus as its most festive jubilee. No other day of the year offers the world so many earthly pleasures.

But why? No pope or Church council ever declared that it should be so. Yet every year, Christmas comes onto the calendar like a sudden December wind, like the blinding sun reflected off new snow. It is a shock to the senses, to go from barren winter to the season of lights and feasting.

And so it should be, for the first Christmas — the day when Jesus Christ was born — was a shock to human history.

For millennia, humankind had lived and died, uncomprehending, in its sin, the miseries of this world inevitable and the joys few and fleeting. Then Christmas arrived, and even the calendar went mad. From that moment, all of history was cleft in two: before that day (B.C.), and after that day (A.D.). The world — with all its sights and sounds and aromas and embraces — was instantly transfigured. For the world’s redemption had begun the moment God took human flesh for His own, the moment God was born in a poor stable in Bethlehem.

The greatest Christian poem commemorates this moment when God definitively came to dwell on earth. St. John begins his Gospel by describing a God of awesome power, remote in space and transcending time: a Spirit, a Word:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him.

This is the God that even the pagan philosophers knew: the Prime Mover, the One, the Creator. Yet, precisely where the pagan philosophers stalled, John’s drama proceeded to a remarkable climax:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

This was shocking news. From the distant heavens, from remotest time, God Himself had come in flesh to “pitch His tent” among His people. Yes, God is eternally the Word, but a word is elusive, and not everyone may grasp it. Now He is also a baby, and a baby may be picked up and held and embraced.

Of all the amazing and confounding truths of the Christian religion, there is none so outrageous as this: that the Word was made flesh, in a particular little town, in a stable filled with animals, on a certain day of the year. The Word was made flesh and changed everything. This makes Christmas the most shocking feast in the calendar.

This is what Christmas teaches us: We have bodies so that we can use them to worship God, as Jesus of Nazareth did. We have bodies so that we can use them to serve others, as Jesus did. We have bodies so that we can bring comfort and consolation and healing, as Jesus did. We have bodies so we can celebrate together, as Jesus did. We have bodies for glory’s sake.

Christmas tells the story of how the flesh became holy, the body was sanctified, and simple earthly joys became hymns of praise to God. We love to hear the story over and over, and we always will love it so long as a scrap of humanity remains in us. L

MIKE AQUILINA is the author of many books, including Faith of Our Fathers (Emmaus Road), from which this essay is adapted. He has hosted 11 series on EWTN Television, and appears weekly on Sirius Radio’s “Sonrise Morning Show.”

Catholics in waiting: celebrating Advent

The feast of Christmas was formally established as December 25 in the early fourth century by Pope Julius I. Not long after, Christians in France began observing a 40-day period of preparation for Christmas involving penance and fasting. By the early seventh century, Pope Gregory had written liturgical prayers for the Advent season, and the practice of Advent as a penitential season continued into the middle ages. Later developments led to the four-Sunday celebration of the season we celebrate today.

According to the Church norms, advent — which derives from a Latin term meaning “coming” — is about more than just the birth of Christ. Instead, it has a dual character involving both “comings” of Christ.

The eight days leading up to Christmas, from December 17 to December 24, focus on preparations to celebrate Christ’s birth, while the period from the First Sunday of Advent (which falls on December 2 this year) through December 16 directs our hearts and minds to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time.

Thus Advent “is a time of waiting, conversion and of hope,” according to a 2001 document of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Church no longer imposes specific penitential practices during this season, but repentance remains an Advent theme. Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum pontifical university in Rome, said that while Advent is “more centered on spiritual purification and preparation to receive the Lord,” it also “has a certain penitential character,” even if not as pronounced as that of Lent.

That call to penance is reflected in the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, which speaks of John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord by “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (see Lk 3:1-6).

Catholic devotions and traditions of Advent can help us prepare for the two “comings” of Christ and keep us mindful of the call to repentance during this season.

“Popular piety,” the Vatican document states, “intuitively understands that it is not possible coherently to celebrate the birth of Him ‘who saves his people from their sins’ without some effort to overcome sin in one’s own life, while waiting vigilantly for Him who will return at the end of time.”

Common traditions

Advent wreaths, Jesse trees, Christmas trees, and Nativity scenes are a few of the most common traditions.

The Advent wreath, a custom that originated in Germany, consists of a circular wreath of evergreen branches into which four candles – usually three purple candles and one rose candle – representing the four weeks of Advent are inserted. The color purple indicates the season’s penitential character, while the rose candle represents the Third Sunday in Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, a day for rejoicing as the Christmas feast draws near.

Lighting the candles each week accompanied by prayer and hymns symbolizes our hope and expectation for the two comings of Christ.

The Jesse Tree tradition dates to the Middle Ages. To a small bare tree is added each day a new ornament symbolic of God’s plan of redemption – depicting, for example, Noah’s ark or the Ten Commandments. Reading the relevant Scripture passages provides a way to reflect on salvation history.

The evergreen Christmas tree symbolizes life; it further reminds us of the tree of Eden, setting for mankind’s original sin, and the wood of the Cross by which Christ atoned for our sins. A Nativity scene with the manger left empty keeps us mindful that we await the fulfillment of our salvation in Christ.

Feasts and fasting

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) is a holy day of obligation commemorating not the Christ child, as is sometimes erroneously thought, but the Virgin Mary, who was conceived without sin in preparation for her vocation as the Mother of God.

Many families in the United States celebrate St. Nicholas Day (December 6) and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12), but a lesser-known Scandinavian tradition marks St. Lucy Day (December 13). The eldest daughter of a family dons a white dress, a red sash, and a crown wreath of candles as she takes pastries to members of her household in the pre-dawn hour. It recalls St. Lucy, a third-century martyr who carried food to Christians hiding in the catacombs of Rome during the Diocletian persecutions. The white dress is reminiscent of a baptismal robe, the red sash indicates martyrdom, and the candles represent the light of Christ that dispels the darkness – all symbols worthy of reflection during Advent.

Posada, a Latin American tradition, is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem as the birth of Jesus drew near. Leading a procession of the faithful who follow while singing Advent hymns, individuals portraying the holy couple walk from house to house seeking shelter before finally finding welcome. More than an elaborate drama, posada reminds us of our need to be prepared to receive Christ when he comes.

Novenas and penances

Spiritual preparation requires increased attention to contemplation. Praying the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer of thanksgiving at the time of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, during the final week before Christmas using the O Antiphons is a longstanding Catholic tradition (see sidebar).

Advent novenas provide another tool. The St. Andrew novena is prayed 15 times a day from the saint’s feast day (November 30) through Christmas day. There also are several novenas dedicated to the Holy Child Jesus, usually prayed from December 16 through Christmas Eve.

Another Advent tradition is a novena of Masses. Celebrated in Spanish-speaking, Portuguese- speaking, and Filipino communities, this tradition goes by names such as Misa de Aguinaldo (“Gift Mass”), Misa de Gallo (“Rooster Mass”), and Simbang Gabi (“Night Mass”). The Masses are celebrated daily at dawn from December 16 to 24 (or at night on December 15 to 23) as a way to prepare for Christ’s coming with joy and thanksgiving.

Acts of penance go to the historical roots of Advent tradition. Making a good examination of conscience followed by sacramental confession during Advent is a salutary preparation for Christmas. Many parishes offer communal celebrations of the sacrament of Penance during December for this reason.

Just as Catholics observed an Advent fast through the Middle Ages, the Eastern Catholic churches have retained a 40-day fast in the weeks leading to Christmas – a period called the Nativity Fast. Beginning on St. Philip’s feast (November 15), the Nativity Fast is more rigorous than the Lenten fast in the Roman Catholic Church in that it includes abstinence from meat, dairy, eggs, and all animal products. The fast becomes even stricter over the final 12 days before Christmas.

As Pope Leo the Great said in the fifth century, “What is more effective than fasting, by which we approach God, and, resisting the devil, we overcome indulgent vices? … And through these voluntary afflictions, our flesh dies to concupiscence and our spirit is renewed for moral excellence.”

Fasting further provokes physical hunger, reminiscent of the spiritual hunger we have for Christ. This fasting, as with repentance and other Advent traditions, is an appropriate model for the anticipation of His “comings” during Advent.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Christmas and the inversion of the family

The most accurate word to describe Christmas is “Nativity.” More than anything else, Christmas is about a birth, the birth of Christ. While this simple fact has occupied a comfortable place in the Christmas tradition, its revolutionary implications might remain hidden to many people. Nonetheless, Christmas has had a decisive revolutionary impact on the ordering of the members of the family.

Pater familias, “father of the family” or “owner of the family estate,” according to Roman law, gave the father autocratic authority over his family. In the family hierarchy, the father came first, the mother a distant second, and the child a far distant third. In contrast to pater familias, the Nativity was revolutionary in that it placed the child first, the mother a close second, and the father a comfortable third. The various images of the Madonna give the Christ- child a centrality, while Joseph is often absent. Mary nourishes, Joseph protects, but the Christ- child, who elicits these virtues, is the centerpiece. The Holy Family inverts the order of pater familias and gives the child a status of pre-eminence.

The Nativity is also a celebration of life, for a new life comes into the world amid widespread rejoicing. It truly brings joy to the world. The shepherds kneel in adoration of the Christ-child, virtually ignoring, though not disrespecting, the parents. Even the angels sing their praises to the newborn. It is not Mother’s Day nor Father’s Day that is celebrated, but the Nativity.

The Nativity affirmed the primary importance of the child. This notion had a deep impact on human history. King Lear, in a moment of uncontrollable rage, pronounces the greatest curse he can imagine on his daughter, Goneril: “Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility. Dry up in her the organs of increase, and from her derogate body never spring a babe to honor her” (Act 1, Scene 4). Here, though stated in the negative, is a powerful testimonial to the importance of new life and how it brings joy and fulfillment to a woman. Love always has a forward motion. It does not hold back. It overcomes obstacles and reaches out to new life. Honoring and embracing the Christ-child is an acceptance of the mystery of love and the rewards it confers.

When we look at the contemporary world, we are witnessing a loss of that proper hierarchy of the family in which the child has pre-eminence. The abortion mentality accords the mother absolute dominion over her child, while the father holds, tenuously, to a distant second place. In many instances the child is downgraded into a subhuman. One example from a university textbook entitled Sociology more than illustrates the point. In referring to the neonate, the author writes: “The physical care, emotional response, and training provided by the family transform this noisy, wet, demanding bundle of matter into a functioning member of society.” King Lear retained enough mental clarity not to wish that his daughter would never deliver a “bundle of matter.”

The title of this brief essay employs the word “inversion.” This word is appropriate in relation to pater familias which had viewed the family upside down. A more precise term, however, is “conversion,” for the order of the Holy Family is a conversion from error to truth, from the unholy to the holy, and remains with us forever as the proper hierarchic model of all human families, perhaps more needed in our own time than ever before in human history.

DR. DONALD DEMARCO’S latest book is Apostles of the Culture of Life (TAN Books), and he has also released the recent title, Why I am Pro-Life and Not Politically Correct. He is a senior fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario), adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT), and regular columnist for St. Austin Review.

Christ’s gift of purity at Christmas

In these days of turmoil within the Roman Catholic Church – on whether longtime doctrine should stand, or priests should remain celibate, or obedience should extend to certain apostate shepherds, or select traditions should be “relaxed” or set aside – there’s a simple but often overlooked reality in the Holy Family.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

“When the Son of God came into the world on Christmas night, He surrounded His Incarnation with the aura of chastity,” the late Fr. John Hardon stated. “His mother, He made sure, would miraculously conceive Him without carnal intercourse. She would be a virgin before birth, in birth, and after birth.” He made sure He was brought up in the virginal family of Mary and Joseph. St. Joseph, Christ’s foster father, was legitimately wed to Mary, yet remained her “most chaste spouse” throughout their marriage. We even recite those words in the Litany to St. Joseph.

Christ was a virgin during His stay on earth, and He never married. During His public life, He showed special affection for pure souls, especially John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, “the beloved Apostle.”

Huh? What a square notion in today’s sexually corrupt culture. I’ve heard ‘progressive’ priests and deacons try to mitigate truths on the Holy Family and others in the Gospels and Scriptures, in homilies and parish classes, as if they were embarrassed by them. That stirs confusion and weakens faith for sure.

Church history shows there is a clear connection between upholding the traditional states of virginity and celibacy among priests, and purity of doctrine. Priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes are our ‘teaching doctors’ of the Church. If they violate the vows of their vocation, flaunt decadence, or spread disavowing opinions, they in essence become unclean in their doctrine and lose holy credibility before us all.

Surprisingly in the 16th century, it was the great unwillingness of so many priests to remain celibate that tilted the pressure in favor of Protestantism – the mortal split from Catholicism that divided the flock. Though there were other issues as well that splintered Catholic unity, the central issue was really priestly celibacy.

And what value is there in Catholic priests remaining celibate?

If a priest is to be like Christ – in persona Christi
if he is to realistically represent the Savior, be an authentic teacher to the people, administer sacraments and counsel in Confession, and offer pure sacrifice at Mass, isn’t it fitting that he, like his Master, should remain virtuously aligned with God – in and out of season? Celibacy isn’t a ‘choice’ or something a priest simply endures. It is a gift from God – a charism – for men called to Holy Orders, in perfect imitation of the life and ministry of Christ.

Christ Himself endorsed priestly celibacy, saying that there are “…those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom,” and He added that “not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given” (Mt 19:12).

Celibacy is a great gift to Christ’s chosen priests, one worth preserving for the High Priest and His kingdom.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

20th Annual Legatus Christmas Gala Dazzles Record Crowd

On December 1st, over 200 Legatus members from 18 different chapters gathered in Midtown Manhattan for the 20th Annual Legatus Christmas Gala. The yearly tradition, begun in 1997 as a chance for Legatus members from different New York City-area chapters to come together annually for shared fellowship, follows the standard format of a Legatus chapter meeting with rosary, Confession, a cocktail reception, and then dinner with a featured speaker. The scale is exponentially greater, however, due to the large and diverse attendance and the grand locales: the historic Church of Our Savior for the sacramental portion of the evening, and the Union League Club across Park Avenue for the reception and dinner.

This year’s Legatus Gala featured Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano, the fifth bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and home to Legatus’ thriving Fairfield County Chapter. Concelebrating was Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island and other priests including many Legatus chaplains. A reverent rosary was led by Dr. Max and Isabel Mercado of the Bucks County Chapter in eastern Pennsylvania, with many members receiving Reconciliation, which was available at multiple confessionals at Church of Our Savior. Bishop Caggiano’s stirring homily left all present spellbound and set the tone for the entire evening.

After Mass, the evening continued at the Union League Club, New York City’s world-famous city club. Legatus members dressed in black-tie enjoyed the company of hundreds of their peers from their own chapters and many others. Nine northeast chapters sponsor the Gala each year and make the event possible. They are: New York City, Long Island, Jersey Shore, Northern New Jersey, Hartford, Fairfield County, Pittsburgh, Bucks County, and Westchester County. These chapters were recognized during the program. The Gala project is managed and presented by the office of regional director for the Northeast.

Paul and Sherry Durnan, founders and longtime officers of the Long Island Chapter, served as masters of ceremonies. Father Chris Monturo, chaplain of the new Westchester County, New York Legatus Chapter gave the invocation. Tom Monaghan, founder and chairman of Legatus, spoke on the importance of the Legatus mission and the significance of the milestone 30th year of Legatus.

Lou Dicerbo of the New York City Chapter was recognized for leading the group that organized the first Legatus Gala 20 years ago. DiCerbo was presented with a navigational compass symbolizing his vision and leadership and then shared remarks from the podium.

Chris McMahon of the Pittsburgh Chapter, the Northeast’s representative on the Legatus International Board of Governors, introduced the keynote speaker, congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith spoke on a range of issues he works on in both the United States Congress and the United Nations, including human trafficking, protection of Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, and of course, protecting innocent life. Smith’s speech and presence were deeply appreciated by all.

The program closed with a moving benediction — in song —from Fr. Joseph Mele, Chaplain of the Pittsburgh Chapter, and recognition of John DiSanto of the Harrisburg Chapter, the 2017 Ambassador of the Year award winner. Many members stayed after at the Union League for continued camaraderie late into the evening.

The 2016 and 2017 Legatus Galas have been the best attended Galas ever, nearly doubling attendance from just a few years ago. It is a members-only special event and a celebration of the Legatus mission. Next year’s Legatus Gala will be held on December 7, 2018. All Legatus members are welcome and encouraged to attend this unforgettable occasion.

Christ reveals man to man himself

The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.
— Evangelium Vitae, ¶1

In order to authentically redirect society from its perilous direction and transform it into a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love, hearts must be re-oriented toward Christ, the Light of the World. After all, the closer the human person comes to God, the closer he comes to his own humanity and the truths of the world in which he lives. As Gaudium et Spes says, “Christ…fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” [¶22]

The human person, in every age, seeks answers to the meaning of human existence: “Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What follows this earthly life? What is truth, the meaning of happiness, and why is there suffering and evil?”

Sadly, as Judeo-Christian values have decayed, the common language used to express and defend those values has become foreign to many. The foundational principles that have guided centuries of civilization are no longer points of demarcation for understanding the human person and his inherent dignity, his relationship with his neighbor or his Creator. This is why we must once again turn our gaze to the One who reveals man to man himself.

The joyous herald of the angels that first Christmas night sheds light upon the answers we desperately seek: I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Luke 2:10 11) Christmas reveals the full meaning of every human life and in Jesus’ birth all life in all of its stages is given its purpose and full significance. It is the good news offered to people in every age and culture.

The unwavering reverence for the dignity of every human person is at the heart of the transformation of cultures, and the resolution to the challenges confronting contemporary humanity cannot be found apart from this single truth. It is this truth that provides the safeguard against the individualistic and totalitarian tendencies that have tragically scarred our cultures, societies and families.

Man is called to a fullness of life, which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. — Evangelium Vitae, ¶2

Catholic tradition affirms, “The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual… [The] body and soul are inseparable” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 362-368); therefore, they stand or fall together (Veritatis Splendor, ¶49). As citizens of two cities, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one that is to come, we are mistaken to think we can evade our earthly responsibilities instead of discharging them conscientiously.

Christianity is not just about social action, or feeling good about one’s life, or working out one’s own salvation, or practicing one’s faith when convenient or opportunistic. Faith in Christ is about an unwavering commitment to Jesus, His mission, commands and Church.

Being transformed by Christ, the One who reveals man to man himself is the fulcrum for a radical transformation of our societies and cultures.

This Gospel exceeds every human expectation and reveals the sublime heights to which the dignity of the human person is raised through grace. — Evangelium Vitae, ¶80

To the extent to which we answer the call to personal holiness, to the extent to which it is the Holy Spirit living the Life of Christ in us, we will transform the world around us and build a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love.

 

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.