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Posted on 10/1/2023 19:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2023 / 15:15 pm (CNA).
A few thousand Catholics joined Dominican priests and sisters on Saturday for a daylong event in Washington, D.C., focused on praying and reflecting on the rosary to conclude a nine-month rosary novena.
The Sept. 30 Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage, which was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, included talks by Dominican priests, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, and a vigil Mass. The pilgrimage was held one day before the start of the month of the rosary in October.
“I find it very spiritually enriching,” Jane Degnan, who traveled from Narragansett, Rhode Island, to partake in the pilgrimage, told CNA.
“The atmosphere here at the basilica really helps us to appreciate and grow in our devotion to the Blessed Mother and the rosary, [which enriches] our relationship with the Lord Jesus,” said Degnan, who added that her attachment to the Dominicans stems from having an uncle who is a Dominican priest and a cousin who is a Dominican nun.
The event began with a talk by Father Gregory Pine, a Dominican priest, on the Virgin Mary, which was followed by exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the upper church while confessions were heard in the various Marian shrines in the lower church. Nearly 20 priests heard confessions throughout the late morning and early afternoon.
Adoration concluded with Benediction, which was followed by another talk from Pine, this one focused on the rosary.
“The rosary imports to us a kind of contemplative stance toward the mysteries [of Christ] in union with Mary,” Pine said during his talk.
Pine explained how “all Christians are called to be contemplative.” He said our experiences in the present are meant to be carried into the next life, where we “couldn’t even imagine looking away” from God: “Heaven is contemplative.”
“It is precisely for this purpose you have been baptized and confirmed and commissioned for a life in this modern world,” Pine said.
Rather than attaching ourselves to material desires, the rosary “puts our minds and hearts in motion” and attaches us to something “that can truly satisfy [us],” Pine continued. “We can’t hang our hearts on anything less,” he said, adding that “apart from [Christ], we can do nothing.”
After Pine’s second talk, the Dominicans led pilgrims in praying the rosary. This was followed by a brief talk on the rosary by Father Lawrence Lew, another Dominican priest. The pilgrimage ended with a Vigil Mass.
Father John Paul Kern, the executive director of the Dominican Friars Foundation, told CNA that the pilgrimage was a good way to lead into the month of the rosary. He said “people were very excited” to partake in the pilgrimage and added that it serves as part of the Dominican “heritage of continuing to preach the rosary,” which has been an important part of the order’s mission for more than 500 years.
Kern, who said he was “very pleased with the turnout” for the pilgrimage, referenced the “powerful” depiction in the basilica of the Pentecost event, which shows the Blessed Mother with the apostles when Christ breathed the Holy Spirit onto them. He said that while praying the holy rosary, “we are gathered with Our Lady like the apostles.”
Prior to the pilgrimage, participants were encouraged to take part in a nine-month novena, which included praying the rosary on the 30th of each month and reciting a novena, which asks God to “pour out [the] Holy Spirit upon us as we meditate upon the mysteries of Christ contained in the most holy rosary.”
Kern said the Dominicans mailed out about 500,000 novena prayer cards to entities and about 100,000 at the request of parishes and individuals. He said he estimates there were at least 100,000 participants in the monthly novena.
One participant, Kyle Grimes, told CNA that the nine-month novena preceding the pilgrimage was a good reminder that helped serve in the preparation for the pilgrimage. He added that he was glad the Dominicans held an event like this.
“It’s hard to find a lot of events like this, especially [ones] that are just Dominican in nature,” said Grimes, who traveled from Baltimore for the pilgrimage.
The Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage was the first event of its kind held by the Dominicans at the basilica, but the organizers intend to make it an annual event.
Posted on 10/1/2023 18:34 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Oct 1, 2023 / 14:34 pm (CNA).
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Vatican’s new chief of doctrine, predicts that “those who expect big changes” to come out of this month’s Synod of Bishops will be “disappointed.”
But the Argentinian prelate, speaking Saturday in an exclusive interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, left the door open to such changes happening at a later date.
Fernández, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, made the remarks during the traditional courtesy visits that took place after he and 20 others received their “red hats” as cardinals from Pope Francis at a consistory in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 30.
Speaking just days before the Oct. 4 opening of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he predicted that those on both sides of the Church’s polarized wings will not get what they want, or fear.
“People who are afraid of strange or misplaced doctrinal advances, and people who, on the other hand, expect great changes, are going to be really disappointed,” he said.
The Synod on Synodality, he said, “is not conceived in this vein.”
“At least not this year,” he added. “Afterwards, we will see what emerges, and next year we will see what happens, but for this synod, this year, we cannot expect too much.”
Nothing for the headlines
What can be expected, the new cardinal assured, is “deepening of our self-awareness, of what we are as Church, what the Lord is asking of us, and what the world of today expects as well, and how we can better reach people with the same message we have always had.”
“If we manage to attain a light that guides us, that orients us, for the future of what we have to be before the people of God and before the world, I think that would already be immense, but it will not attract anyone’s attention. You can’t make a headline out of it,” he reflected.
The former archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, who since September holds what is perhaps the most powerful position in the Vatican after the Holy Father, suggests that “everyone, including journalists” should “lower their expectations” because, he asserted, “there will not be much new” from this synod.
Profoundly spiritual call
As for being named a cardinal, the 61-year-old Fernández told ACI Prensa that his appointment to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith was “more shocking.”
“It implies very intense work, which I do with pleasure, because for the most part, it involves theology, which is something I am passionate about,” he explained. “I dreamed that after I turned 65, I would return to studying and teaching. In reality [with this post,] I am not going to teach, but I do have to study, and that is something I enjoy.”
The cardinal went on to praise his “very good team” of specialists and theologians at the dicastery, which, he said, gives him “more security.”
But the cardinal’s hat, “it seems to me, wasn’t indispensable,” Fernández added. “As Pope Francis has ‘his own ideas,’ he could have left me as a prefect without this title.”
Nevertheless, the call to be a cardinal has “that symbolic meaning of the donation of blood,” he said. “A call to a fuller, more courageous [surrender], more liberated from one’s own ego and one’s own needs.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 10/1/2023 14:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Oct 1, 2023 / 10:15 am (CNA).
Pope Francis on Sunday announced a meeting with children to be held at the Vatican on Nov. 6.
The event in the Paul VI Audience Hall, sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, will be dedicated to the theme “Let us learn from boys and girls.”
“It is an event to show the dream we all have: To go back to having the pure sentiments of children because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them,” the pope said after praying the midday Angelus on Oct. 1.
Accompanied by five children from five continents, the pope on Sunday said that children “teach us how to be transparent in relationships, how to welcome strangers, and how to care for creation.”
Sunday’s Angelus, which drew a large crowd of pilgrims to St. Peter’s Square on a sunny afternoon, came during an especially busy weekend at the Vatican.
On Saturday morning the pope elevated 21 new cardinals from 15 different countries during a consistory in St. Peter’s Square. Later in the day, he led an ecumenical prayer vigil, a prelude to the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, also known as the Synod on Synodality, which begins Wednesday and continues through October. The synod’s participants began a three-day retreat Sunday led by Father Timothy Radcliffe. The Dominican priest interrupted his opening meditation, which was livestreamed by the Vatican, for the Angelus.
Sunday also marked the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose “little way” of holiness is the subject of a new apostolic letter Pope Francis will publish on Oct. 15. Following his Gospel reflection the pope spoke briefly about the document, calling the “Little Flower” a saint of trust. “May St. Thérèse help us to trust and to work for the missions,” he said.
The apostolic exhortation will be released on the feast of the saint for whom Thérèse is named, St. Teresa of Avila.
Pope Francis also touched on the beginning of the month of the rosary and expressed his attention to the “dramatic situation of the displaced” in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, renewing his call for dialogue “with the hope that conversation, with the support of the international community, can enable a lasting resolution that will put an end to the humanitarian crisis.” He promised his prayers for the dozens of people killed in an explosion at a crowded gas station in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh last week.
Parable of the two sons
His reflection on Sunday’s Gospel — Matthew’s account of Jesus’ parable of the two sons — was a call to avoid the hypocrisy of corruption, even if in our weakness, we will continue to sin.
The parable is more about sincerity than obedience, the pope observed. “Even though neither of the sons behaves impeccably, the first lies, while the second makes a mistake but remains sincere,” he noted.
The first son, who breaks his promise to his father to go work in the vineyard, “gets by without conflict, but he cheats and deceives his father, disrespecting him in a way that is worse than had he responded with a blunt ‘no,’” the pope said. He warned that “there is always the hope of redemption for a sinner; for the corrupt, instead, it is much more difficult.”
The Holy Father said the honesty of the second son, on the other hand, leads him to examine himself and repent, whereas those like the first son “disguise their disobedience without welcoming any honest dialogue or feedback.”
The pope invited the faithful to an examination of conscience in light of the parable. “When I make a mistake, am I willing to repent and retrace my steps?” he asked. “Or do I pretend everything is okay and go through life wearing a mask, concerning myself only about appearing good and righteous?”
Speaking of the special focus on Mary during October, the pope urged the faithful to experience “the beauty of praying the rosary.”
“Together with Mary, let us contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life and invoke her intercession for the needs of the Church and the world,” he said, highlighting in particular the need for peace, evangelization, and the Synod of Bishops.
Posted on 10/1/2023 12:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Oct 1, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).
At first glance, 22-year-old Julia Oseka seems like your average college student. But the junior at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia majoring in physics and theology, a native of Poland, is anything but ordinary. Oseka is one of 10 non-bishop voting members from the United States and Canada who will be at the Synod on Synodality taking place at the Vatican from Oct. 4–28.
In 2022, Oseka became a student leader for Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (SCHEAP), which is a coalition of Catholic universities, colleges, and Newman Centers in the Philadelphia area fostering student voices in the synod.
In April 2022, a large, intercollegiate listening session took place at La Salle University with representatives from all participating colleges and universities and Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia. Soon after this meeting, Perez and other SCHEAP members selected Oseka as one of three Philadelphia delegates to the synod’s North American Continental Assembly.
In an interview with CNA, Oseka called her participation in the synod “very humbling.”
“I see it as really a sign that the Church is ready and is open to listen to people — and invite people — to be very active in those big decision-making and discernment processes in the Church,” she added.
The Synod on Synodality will mark the first time a synod includes voting delegates who are not bishops. Nearly a third of the 366 voting delegates were chosen by Pope Francis, including laypeople, priests, consecrated women, and deacons. Fifty-four voting members are women.
Oseka, who calls herself a feminist and has said she dreams of being a physics professor one day, is the only female physics scholar in St. Joseph’s University’s prestigious John P. McNulty Program, which awards scholarships to women in STEM. She told CNA she finds inspiration in her confirmation saint, Thérèse of Lisieux, whom Oseka thinks is “so relatable. She was so young when she passed away and led a heroic life. She’s a doctor of the Church and a great woman.”
Despite preparing for her monthlong trip and taking part in interviews for the media, Oseka has still managed to focus on her schoolwork and spiritual life. “I have been praying before. I am praying still. I’m doing my Ignatian examen daily and trying to pray different forms of prayer as well,” she shared.
Oseka won’t be the only young adult attending the synod from North America. Father Ivan Montelongo, 30, a priest of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, who was ordained only three years ago, will also participate. So will Wyatt Olivas, an undergraduate at the University of Wyoming and a member of the Diocese of Cheyenne, where he served as a catechist and music minister.
Oseka has said she believes women and LGBTQIA+ people should have greater roles in the Church. She told CNA that during campus-level synodal meetings organized by SCHEAP, she and her peers were touched by the “joys and hardships” that others voiced. And this is when she realized that “there are people in the Church who are underserved.”
“They’re on the ‘peripheries’ as Pope Francis would call that — not a lot of attention or guidance is devoted to those people and young people are part of that group I believe, as many of my peers voiced that, and hope and wish for more spaces for them to be the now of the Church currently,” she explained.
Oseka said she hopes the synod “will facilitate openness to the Spirit.”
“During the discussions lately with other synod participants something that really struck me is that we have to be open to the mystery and immerse ourselves in the mystery that is fundamental for all synod participants,” Oseka continued. “So I really hope that all of us will open our hearts for the surprises of the Spirit and will be brave enough to embrace those surprises.”
“I’m looking forward to what it will bring but I’m sure it will be filled with grace and the Holy Spirit among us,” she said.
Posted on 10/1/2023 11:00 AM ()
Reflecting on the Gospel for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Benedictine nun and former abbess Mother Maria Ignazia Angelini offers a reflection prior to evening Mass on Sunday during the retreat for participants in the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
Posted on 10/1/2023 10:30 AM ()
Bishop Raymond Poisson. Bishop of St-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier, Canada, celebrates Holy Mass on Sunday evening and preaches the homily for synod members, fraternal delegates and special invitees currently on retreat prior to participating in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which begins on 4 October.
Posted on 10/1/2023 09:41 AM ()
Armenia has asked the European Union for assistance to help it deal with a massive refugee influx from Nagorno-Karabakh. Nearly all 120,000 mainly Christian Armenians living there have fled Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan recaptured the enclave last week in a battle that killed hundreds of people. Its request comes as Pope Francis reiterates his appeal for dialogue between the conflicting nations.
Posted on 10/1/2023 08:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Paris, France, Oct 1, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
For more than 30 years, the Community of the Beatitudes has been hosting “rose petals” evenings dedicated to the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux (1873–1897).
The concept is simple: Devotees write a letter to the “Little Flower” (a common term of endearment for the saint) asking for graces through her intercession, and a year later their letters are returned to them. Many testify that they were granted graces even though they had asked God for “the impossible.”
The story of these vigils, now held on five continents, began in 1992 in Lisieux, in Normandy, France, where Thérèse spent her youth and years as a Carmelite. A member of the Beatitudes community, Jean-François Callens, who was then the head of a house near Grenoble, was also in charge of the spiritual program for a vigil held in the basilica on the theme of intercessory prayer.
That evening, he invited everyone to write a letter to Thérèse, and envelopes were handed out, with the promise of returning them a year later. “Thérèse had the nerve to promise that she would spend her eternity doing good on earth.” Callens recalled saying to those gathered, “Do you think, my friends, that she will keep her word and rain roses down on us?”
And to everyone’s astonishment, real rose petals fell down upon the group.
Was it a miracle? No, it was more of a sign.
Prior to the event, Callens had invited members of the community to visit local florist shops and collect all the rose petals they could find. Then they made a plan to drop them from the top of the catwalk in the nave of the basilica in order to “persuade the discouraged that their prayers are not isolated or lost.”
Encouraged by this first shower of blessings, the community continued the tradition in all its houses. Sister Marie-Liesse Bigot, who was present from the outset, helped to spread the initiative throughout the world — particularly in New Zealand and the United States, where she has lived. Even today, she hosts seven or eight evenings a year around Oct. 1, St. Thérèse’s feast day. And she has collected the letter from these evenings into a book, published in French, called “Je passerai mon ciel à faire du bien sur la terre; fioretti des Soirées Pétales de roses.”
‘Thérèse attracts whoever she wants’
Once again this year, Bigot is hoping to increase the number of rose petals vigils especially because 2023 marks a double jubilee for Thérèse of Lisieux: the 150th anniversary of her birth (Jan. 2, 1873) and the 100th anniversary of her beatification (April 29, 1923).
The aim of this initiative is to “restore hope,” Bigot explained to CNA. She wants people to “rediscover this popular faith that we have lost, which is often taken for granted,” Bigot said, adding that “the Lord works for the little ones.”
“The focus of the evening is not on Thérèse, it’s Jesus,” she said. During the vigil, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for a time of adoration. In country churches, this is an opportunity to bring out the monstrance, sometimes long locked away in the sacristy.
It’s also an opportunity to offer the sacrament of reconciliation to people far removed from the Church.
“Once I was in the Jura [a region in France],” Bigot recalled, “and the parish priest made himself available for confessions. At the end of the evening, he was incredibly happy, having heard the confession of someone who hadn’t confessed for 30 years.” Still overwhelmed by the story, Bigot reckoned that “for that person alone, it was worth the 800-kilometer round trip.”
“Thérèse attracts whoever she wants,” Bigot said. “Once I was in Poitiers, in a very dechristianized region — there was no monstrance, the microphone didn’t work, nor did the lighting, and we thought there would be no one, that it wasn’t the style of the people here... and the church was full!"
‘We don’t see many miracles because we forget’
Bigot spoke about the graces she has witnessed. Writing a letter, she said, allows us to see God at work in the little things. “We don’t see many miracles in our lives because we forget what we’re asking the Lord for,” she said. “I myself forget what I’ve written in my letter, and every year I’m surprised.”
Bigot likes to tell a story that spanned three years.
“In 1998, I was on my way back from New Zealand, passing through France and going through a difficult time for my faith. I had to host a rose petals evening, and I was feeling very bad inside. I saw a couple of friends in the congregation, members of the community, who couldn’t have children. I prayed: ‘Listen Lord, I ask you for one thing, and that is to give a child to this family, to this couple.’ I returned to the United States and received my letter a year later. I hadn’t heard from this couple, I didn’t know what had become of them. A fortnight later, I received an announcement saying ‘Jeanne was born.’ I cried. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, ‘I’m taking care of you, too.’”
But the story didn’t end there.
“At a rose petals evening in the United States, I testified about this in my poor English, and a woman heard me. A mother herself, she was touched and decided to pray for her dentist, who had been married for 14 years and had no children. Three months later, she went to his office for a cleaning, and the dentist told her, ‘We are pregnant.’ The following year, they had twins. On hearing this testimony, a woman asked for the grace that her daughter, who kept having miscarriages, could have a child. The next month... she was pregnant.”
Holding back tears, Bigot marveled at this “contagion of witness.”
“People have found jobs and homes, and experienced reconciliation, healing, and other crazy things,” she told CNA. “These evenings have successfully spread to France, Italy, Germany, Kazakhstan, the USA, Alaska, Mali, China... Thérèse is loved everywhere. She has succeeded in reaching intellectuals, children, and all generations.”
Not a list to Santa Claus
So, what’s the difference between this letter to the Little Flower and a letter to Santa Claus?
“In the letter to Thérèse, I commit my faith, my hope, in a surge of trust, because Thérèse’s message is that God is Father and that he takes care of me,” Bigot explained. “It’s not magic; you don’t press the dispenser… You put yourself in God’s presence and ask him for ‘the impossible through the intercession of Thérèse.’ What seems impossible in my life today? It’s all the places where we beg: Lord, I need you. I entrust to him the important things, with all their weight. It’s not easy. You see people crying as they write their letters.”
Bigot also said we should never make “an idol” of Thérèse, because “it’s not her who hears, it’s Jesus,” she pointed out, saying that “the rose petal evenings always have a taste of heaven,” and we should all “take the graces when they come.”
Posted on 10/1/2023 06:00 AM ()
Pope Francis notes it is the month of the Rosary and of missions and invites all Catholics to pray the Rosary and implore peace in Ukraine and in all war-torn regions and also for the Synod of Bishops on Synodality.
Posted on 10/1/2023 05:57 AM ()
From 30 September to 3 October, the members, delegates and special invitees for the XVI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops are spending time in prayer at Fraterna Domus retreat house. Meditations and reflections are being live-streamed.