Basic Catholic Rules On Indulgences

November 29, 2010

Bridegroom Press
November 2010

“I remember indulgences from when I was a kid!” Many people mention this, and the people who do always have questions.

Where Has The Time Gone?
When we learned about indulgences twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago, we remember how the nuns explained it to us: doing an indulgence got us time off purgatory. We didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it sounded like a good deal.

God bless the nuns, but they either deliberately misled us because they didn’t think we would understand the real explanation, or they didn’t know the real explanation themselves. Prior to Vatican II, all indulgences had a certain amount of time associated with them - saying this prayer or doing that deed was worth 300 days, or 10 years or somesuch. But the time listed was never meant to refer to time in Purgatory. It was a little more complicated than that.

Long, Long Ago…
You see, in the very early Church, the first 300 to 400 years, the sacrament of reconciliation was not celebrated as commonly as it is now. In fact, it was unusual to receive it as often as once every five or ten years. Everyone who entered the Church came in as adults - while the Church was happy to baptize children if the parents wanted, She spent most of her time teaching pagan adults the Faith.
If I were a pagan adult who was interested in becoming Christian, I would probably take between three and five solid years of instruction, being taught every day, practicing the Faith every day, having the community watch me practice every day. Everyone knew my name, and I would learn everyone’s name myself. Only after the whole community had seen me prepare and felt I was ready, only then would I be permitted to enter the Church.

The Church took this long because the bishop and the community wanted to make sure I really understood what I was getting into. They also wanted to make sure that I understood all the responsibilities I was undertaking. They wanted to see a real conversion in the way I approached the world, a real hunger for baptism and the washing away of sins.

Penance IS Purgation
What’s this got to do with indulgences? Well, once I was finally permitted to be baptized, the power of that baptism combined with the pre- and post-baptismal instruction was supposed to make me so solid in Christ Jesus that I would never commit another mortal sin.

Sure, I would be tempted - that went without saying. But I was not expected to commit any more mortal sins. I was an adult, I was giving my word to God that I had left that life of sin behind me, and God gave me His grace to empower me so that I would no longer succumb, so why would I sin?

And if I did commit a mortal sin, then I needed to show real remorse for it in order to demonstrate to the community that I had no plans to repeat the experience. So, if I had gone to confession in the early Church, this is the kind of penance I might receive: “Well, you’ve made a good confession,” the bishop might say, “so I will give you a light penance. For the next two years, you are not permitted to attend Mass or receive the Eucharist. Instead, you will spend every Sunday walking around the Church, praying the penitential Psalms while we are celebrating Mass.

Then, for the two years following that, you may attend Mass through the Gospel reading, but when all the unbaptized are ushered out of the Church after that Gospel reading, you will go with them and again walk about the courtyard praying the penitential Psalms.”

“If you do this faithfully, then for the two years following that, you are permitted to be present for the consecration, but you must be face down in front of the community, reciting the penitential Psalms.

And if all of this goes well and you continue to show true and deep remorse, then following this, you may be admitted to the Eucharist once again. Go in peace, my son.”

An eight or ten year penance was not at all uncommon. For certain sins, like murder or participation in abortion, you might be  told to perform penance for the rest of your life, not permitted to receive the Eucharist again until you lay dying.

A VERY Sweet Deal
So, the time periods associated with the indulgenced prayers were not meant to be time off purgatory after death, rather, they were indications that the Church had remitted the normal, early penance of 300 days or ten years in exchange for your saying this one prayer. She was promising to release to you the grace you would otherwise have had to spend a decade in prayer to win. Obviously, this was a pretty sweet deal. There was only one problem.

No one understood or seemed to remember the connection between the early penances and the current time values associated with indulgences. Instead, the faithful were getting a fairly silly understanding of how Purgatory and indulgences worked. Ultimately, after Vatican II, the Church threw up her hands and said, “Never mind the time periods. Every indulgence is just partial or plenary now. You can either win back for the world some of the grace you took out of it (partial) or all of the grace you took out of it.”

What Indulgences Count?
This leaves an obvious question. What do we do with all those old holy cards we have that say we get 300 days off? The Church also answered that question.
Since indulgences are matters of particular law, no prayer is indulgenced unless the Church says it is. Every generation or so, the Church releases a new handbook listing all the indulgences for which She opens the treasury of heaven.
These indulgences are listed in the Handbook of Indulgences, and that Handbook (aka Enchiridion) supercedes all previous rules. So, if you have an old holy card or book (like a Raccolta) that lists indulgences, none of those prayers carry the indulgence described unless that prayer also happens to be in the latest list from Rome.

And even if the prayer you are looking at is in the latest list, it no longer carries the indulgence the old list said it had. Now, it has only the indulgence - partial or plenary - that the Church has most recently assigned it. Don’t worry too much, though. All of the prayers have been retained with at least a partial indulgence. It’s only the plenary indulgences that may have been altered in a significant way.

So, if you want to do an indulgenced work or pray an indulgenced prayer, you have to have the latest handbook (currently, a translation of the 1999 edition) or you can use the prayers and acts conveniently described in the latest edition of the Beauty of Grace, Calendar of Indulgences 2010. We’ve gone through the book and laid out the rules in an easy-to-use calendar, so you don’t have to worry about all the details in the book. You can find it at www.bridegroompress.com

We hope you like it. We certainly enjoyed putting it together. Now, go and get some purgatory time out of the way.

Steve Kellmeyer
Bridegroom Press

Christianity as Hobby: Jesus Not Worth $200 Million More a Year to Christians, While New Video Worth $360 Million in One Day to Gamers

November 16, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (MetroCatholic) — Christians in the U.S. have not organized to raise $200 million more a year needed to spread the good news of Jesus Christ around the globe.

Meanwhile, in 24 hours beginning November 9, 2010, gamers in North America and the United Kingdom spent a record $360 million on the new “Call of Duty: Black Ops” video game.

“The comparison suggests that gamers value a new video game more than Christians value Jesus Christ and his priorities,” observed Dr. John Ronsvalle. He is coauthor, with his wife Sylvia, of the new study, “The State of Church Giving through 2008.”

The Ronsvalles calculated that it would cost church members in the U.S. about $1 a year to raise the estimated $200 million more a year needed to engage all unreached people groups. “Engaging” means providing a basic point of access to the Gospel.

The new study, released in October 2010 by empty tomb, inc., cites the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee as the source of the $200 million figure.

According to the Ronsvalles, the Southern Baptist Convention’s emphasis on unreached people groups is more pronounced than in many other denominations. “It’s just that not even the Southern Baptists have organized to get the job done,” John Ronsvalle said.

The Southern Baptist Convention includes about 45,000 congregations. The additional cost for global evangelism would be about $12 per member per year.

Another group that places high priority on global evangelism is the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The NAE also includes about 45,000 congregations. Spreading the cost across the combined total of 90,000 congregations would reduce the cost per member.

“Church members know how to organize for a goal,” the Ronsvalles note. They point to the successful $115 million building campaign for the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.

“Yale law professor Stephen Carter has written about the dangerous trend in the legal structure to regard religion as a hobby rather than a core value,” said Sylvia Ronsvalle. “Data shows that church member giving as a percent of income has declined over four decades. Congregations are spending more of the donated money on themselves. The legal structure may only be reflecting what Christians themselves are doing: treating their religion more and more like a hobby rather than as a defining principle.”

The Ronsvalles also point to global physical need as another value important to Jesus Christ.

Church leaders have not organized to raise the estimated $5 billion additional needed annually to reduce the number of under-five child deaths around the globe.

This cost would be $28 more a year per church member, the Ronsvalles calculate. For church members associated with the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., the cost would be $119 more a year. Per Roman Catholic, the cost would be $73 more a year.

The new study cites United Nations data about 16 nations that are making no progress toward reducing child deaths. Using other available data on global Christianity, the Ronsvalles found that, on average, 84% of the people in 10 of these “no progress” countries self-identify as Christians.

“Christianity can only be redefined as a hobby if that’s the way Christians are treating their faith,” the Ronsvalles conclude from the giving and membership data they analyze. “If Christians are not willing to invest in their faith the way gamers invest in a new video game, perhaps the value of Christianity to church members is weakening even as a hobby.”

Holy Father invites all to follow example of newly beatified Capuchin friar

September 13, 2010

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) — A Spanish Capuchin friar who was known across the city of Granada, Spain for his simplicity was beatified on Sunday morning. The Holy Father invited the faithful to follow his example and to love all people, “without exception.”

Brother Leopold de Alpandeire, born Francisco Sánchez Márquez, was beatified at an airfield  near Granada with an estimated 60,000 people in attendance. Prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Archbishop Angelo Amato, presided over the ceremony along with a number concelebrants including Cardinal Antonio María Cañizares and all the bishops of Andalusia, led by Archbishop of Granada, Javier Martínez.

The Capuchin friar, who lived from 1864-1956, was remembered in August by the general minister of the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor, Br. Mauro Jöhri. Br. Mauro wrote that the Blessed was “before all else a ‘man of God,’ steeped in His Spirit.”

For 50 years, he recalled, Br. Leopold walked the streets of Granada “distributing the alms of love, lending color to the sad days of many, creating unity and harmony, leading all to meet God and lending dignity to everyday tasks.”

In a pastoral letter written for the occasion,  the Archbishop of Granada said that in the “simple” spirituality and life of the friar “the word of the Gospel is once again fulfilled, ‘Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

“This is fulfilled in the world, in effect” he said, “and it is fulfilled in Br. Leopold. The contrast between the programs of the world with the categories and criteria of Br. Leopold cannot be more radical.”

“But Br. Leopold is not a utopia,” the prelate concluded, “he is a being in flesh and bone.”

Uniting himself with the celebrations in Granada after Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Benedict said that “the life of this simple and austere Capuchin religious is a song to humility and confidence in God and a luminous model of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary.”

He invited “all, following the example of the new Blessed, to serve the Lord with a sincere heart, so that we might experience the immense love that He has for us and which makes it possible to love all men without exception.”

New Catholic Children’s Book Series Launched by Ignatius Press and Magnificat

August 16, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (MetroCatholic) — Ignatius Press and Magnificat have joined forces to launch a new line of beautifully illustrated, high quality, Catholic children’s books. These charming books will capture the imagination of children of various ages through delightful full-color illustrations, exciting stories from the Bible and lives of the saints, and simple yet powerful prayers.

Books for children of this quality are hard to come by - and when Ignatius Press discovered these books, published by Magnificat in France, they knew that they would be appreciated by parents in United States.

The first eight books of this series will be available in October 2010, featuring a variety of types of books for children of different ages. Three sturdy board books, “My First Prayers for My Family,” “My First Prayers for Christmas,” and “The Bible for Little Ones,” are geared towards young children. Two beautiful hardcover books, “John Mary Vianney: The Holy Cure of Ars” and “Bernadette: The Little Girl from Lourdes,” are perfect for older children and feature lovely watercolor illustrations and engaging text about these two treasured saints. Two other books, “The Adventures of Lupio, Volume 1: The Adventures and Other Stories,” and “The Illustrated Gospel for Children,” have fun, youthful but tasteful stories told in a comic book style. There is also the first volume in a series of coloring books entitled “Pictures from the Gospels: A Coloring Book.”

Ignatius Press is excited to partner with Magnificat, the publisher of the popular devotional, pocket size magazine that features daily Mass readings, meditations, and morning and evening prayers, to publish this new line of Catholic children’s books. Ignatius Press is well known as the primary English-language publisher of Pope Benedict XVI’s books. Ignatius also publishes several best-selling children’s catechisms, such as the popular “Faith and Life” series, and is a partner of Bethlehem Books. Their experience and success with other children’s products makes Ignatius Press confident that these new children’s books will have a wide appeal to Catholic families and children.

Anthony Ryan, Marketing Director for Ignatius Press, says, “Ignatius Press is honored and excited to be working with Magnificat to publish this new line of such high quality, beautifully designed Catholic books for children that have that wonderful combination of inspiring, informative text with such lovely artwork. Magnificat has earned a very high reputation in the USA since they launched their incredibly popular monthly worship aid, ‘Magnificat,’ and they have been publishing award-winning books in France for decades. We are very confident at Ignatius Press that this new collaboration with Magnificat will fill a real need for many more beautiful, outstanding Catholic books for children that will be greatly appreciated by the millions of Catholics, young and old, in North America.”

When the books are available in October 2010, there will be several ways to purchase them. Ignatius Press will distribute the books to the general trade, through their catalogues and online at www.ignatius.com

Magnificat will also be selling their books exclusively to their subscriber base.

Review copies of the books will be available in October. Anthony Ryan is available to give interviews which will provide a preview of this new series. For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press, (239)867-4180 or [email protected]

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Brazilian bishops point to defense of life, marriage and peace ahead of elections

July 21, 2010

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (CNA) — Bishops from the eastern region of Brazil in the state of Rio de Janeiro urged the faithful this week to vote in the October elections for those candidates who defend life from conception to natural death, the family and freedom of education.

In a recent statement encouraging the faithful to carefully discern the candidates for the general elections, the bishops said, “The first criteria for voting for a candidate is the defense of the dignity of the human person and of life in all of its manifestations, from conception to natural death.  We vehemently reject all forms of violence, as well as any kind of abortion, the exploitation of minors in the marketplace, euthanasia and any form of genetic manipulation.”

“The second criterion is the defense of the family, where the person grows up and reaches fulfillment.  For this reason you must elect those candidates who provide concrete incentives for the development of the family according to God’s plan.  That is, (candidates) who oppose same-sex marriage, adoption by homosexuals and the legalization of prostitution, drugs and the trafficking of women.

A third criterion is “the freedom of education through which parents have the right to educate their children according to the vision of life they deem most appropriate.” This includes working for quality in public schools and defending the right of private schools to exist in accord with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, “which was recently recognized in the accords between Brazil and the Holy See.”

After noting that the fourth and fifth criteria refer respectively to solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity, the bishops emphasized that voters should elect candidates who promote a culture of peace and are willing to confront the widespread violence in the country.

Political life, the bishops stressed, is one way of bringing the Gospel into daily life in order to build “a just, fraternal and equitable society.”  Politicians who act in this way will restore hope and faith to those who have become cynical and skeptical of government and government leaders, they said.

“This is a great opportunity that Catholics and all people of good will must not lose,” the bishops advised.

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THE WORD OF GOD GIVES MEANING TO DAILY ACTIVITY

July 20, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - At midday Sunday Benedict XVI appeared at the balcony overlooking the central courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered there.

Before the Marian prayer, the Pope reflected on this Sunday’s Gospel reading which recounts Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus. Martha busies herself with domestic chores and reproaches Mary for not lending a hand but sitting rapt at the Master’s feet.

The Holy Father quoted Jesus’ words in Luke’s Gospel: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her”, and he explained: “The words of Christ are very clear: they show no disdain for an active life, or for generous hospitality, but contain an evident reference to the fact that what is truly necessary is something else: to listen to the Word of the Lord. And in that moment the Lord is there, present in the Person of Jesus. All the rest will pass and be taken away from us, but the Word of God is eternal and gives meaning to our daily activities”.

“This Gospel episode is highly appropriate for the holiday season because it recalls the fact that, although human beings must work and dedicate themselves to domestic and professional duties, above all they need God, Who is the inner light of Love and Truth. Without love, even the most important activities become valueless and bring no joy. Without profound meaning, all our actions are reduced to sterile and disordered activism.

“And who gives Love and Truth if not Jesus Christ?” the Holy Father asked. “Let us learn then, brothers and sisters, to help one another, to collaborate, but first and foremost together to chose the ‘better part’, which is and will always be our greatest good”.

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INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR SILENCE TO PERCEIVE THE VOICE OF GOD

July 6, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to the town of Sulmona, in the Italian region of Abruzzo, to mark the eighth centenary of the birth of St. Celestine V, the hermit Pope.

At 10 a.m. he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in the town’s Piazza Garibaldi, attended by some 25,000 faithful.

The Holy Father began his homily with a reference to the difficulties the local people have to face every day, giving them assurances of his “closeness and recollection in prayer”, especially for “those who live their lives in precarious situations due to a lack of work, uncertainty over the future, and with physical and moral suffering and a sense of loss due to the earthquake of 6 April 2009″.

Speaking then of Celestine V, known as Pietro da Morrone because he lived in seclusion on a mountain of that name until his election as Pope in 1294, the Holy Father highlighted how “he abides in history, … above all for his sanctity. Sanctity, indeed, never loses its power of attraction, it does not fall into oblivion, it never goes out of fashion; rather, with the passing of time it becomes ever brighter, expressing man’s perennial striving after God”.

This saint was, “from his youth, a ’seeker after God’, a man who wished to find answers to the great questions of existence: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I alive? For whom do I live? … In exterior silence, but above all in interior silence, he managed to perceive the voice of God which was able to guide his life”.

In this context, the Holy Father noted how “we live in a society in which every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activities, sounds. Often there is not even time to listen or to converse. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to create silence inside and outside ourselves if we wish to be capable not only of hearing the voice of God, but also the voice of those near us, the voice of our fellow man”.

Another element of St. Celestine’s life was his recognition of the work of Grace. “What he had and what he was did not come from him, it was given to him. It was the work of Grace and, therefore, constituted a responsibility before God and before others”.

“God anticipates us always. Each individual life contains good and beautiful things that we can easily recognise as His Grace. … If we learn to recognise God in His infinite goodness then we will be able to see, with wonder, the signs of God in our lives, just as the saints did”. The signs of a God “Who is always close, Who is always good to us, Who says: ‘Have faith in me’”.

“The cross”, said Benedict XVI, “was the focal point of Pietro da Morrone’s life, it gave him the strength to face harsh penance and the most difficult moments, from his youth until his final hour. … When he was elected to the See of the Apostle Peter he chose to grant a special indulgence called ‘La Perdonanza’”.

Pope Celestine, “though leading a hermit’s life, was not ‘closed in on himself’, but was seized with the passion to carry the good news of the Gospel to his brothers and sisters”, said the Holy Father.

The Church’s mission, he explained, consists “in the calm, clear and courageous announcement of the evangelical message - even in moments of persecution - without surrendering to the lure of fashion, or of violence and imposition”. It consists “in detachment from concern for things (money or clothes), trusting in the Providence of the Father; in particular attention and concern towards those sick in body or in spirit”.

At the end of Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father entrusted the local Church to the Virgin Mary, venerated in Sulmona at the shrine of the “Madonna della Libera”. He said: “May you walk united and joyful in the way of faith, hope and charity. Faithful to the heritage of St. Celestine V, always combine evangelical radicalism with mercy, so that all those who seek God may find Him.

“In Mary, Virgin of silence and of listening, St, Peter da Morrone found the perfect model of obedience to divine will, in his simple and humble life directed at the search for what is truly essential”, the Pope added.

“We too, who live in an age of greater comfort and of more possibilities, are called to appreciate a sober lifestyle, to keep our minds and hearts free in order to share our goods with our brothers and sisters”.

After praying the Angelus, the Pope went to the House for Clergy at the diocesan pastoral centre of Sulmona where he had lunch with bishops of the Abruzzo region. The House for Clergy, built to accommodate sick and elderly priests, was inaugurated today following restoration work and is dedicated to Benedict XVI.

PRAYER IS NEVER DETACHED FROM REALITY

July 5, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 4 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Today at 4.30 p.m., before leaving the House for Clergy in Sulmona, the Holy Father greeted members of the committee that had organized his visit to that Italian town. He subsequently received a delegation from the nearby high-security prison made up of the director, chaplains, warders and a number of prisoners.

Benedict XVI then traveled to the cathedral for a meeting with local youth. On arrival he paused for a few moments of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament then, following some words of greeting from Bishop Angelo Spina of Sulmona-Valva, addressed the young people gathered in the building.

The Pope began by praising their “historical memory”, evident in their belief that Celestine V is a figure who still retains all his relevance today. “Without memory”, said the Holy Father, “there is no future. It used to be said that history is a teacher of life, but consumer culture tends to limit man to the present, to make him lose his sense of the past, of history. But by so doing, it also deprives him of the capacity to understand himself, to perceive problems and build the future. Therefore, dear young people, I wish to tell you that a Christian is someone who has a good memory, who loves history and seeks to understand it”.

Reflecting then on how to evaluate Pietro da Morrone’s life today in the twenty-first century, the Pope highlighted how certain things are perennial and enduring, “for example the capacity to listen to God in exterior silence, and above all in interior silence. … It is important to learn how to experience moments of interior silence in our daily lives in order to be capable of hearing the voice of the Lord”, he said.

“Be sure that if someone learns to listen to this voice and to follow it with generosity, he is afraid of nothing, he knows and feels that God is with him. … The secret of vocation lies in the relationship with God, in prayer. … And this remains true both before making the choice - in other words, at the moment of deciding to start on the journey - and afterwards, if we wish to be faithful and persevere. St. Celestine V was first and foremost… a man of prayer, a man of God”.

But “authentic prayer is not detached from reality. If prayer alienates you, removes you from real life, be aware that it is not authentic prayer. … It is not a question of simply multiplying the number of words”, the Pope explained, “but of being in God’s presence, making the expressions of the ‘Our Father’ present in our minds and our hearts, or adoring the Eucharist, … or meditating on the Gospel, … or participating in the liturgy. All this does not detach us from life; rather, it helps us truly to be ourselves in all environments, faithful to the voice of God which speaks to our conscience, free from the conditioning of the present moment”.

“Faith and prayer do not resolve problems, but enable them to be faced with a new light and a new strength, in a manner worthy of man, more serenely and more effectively. If we look at the history of the Church we see that it is rich in saints and blesseds who, on the basis of an intense and constant dialogue with God, illuminated by faith, were able to find creative and novel solutions to respond to the concrete human needs of all times: health, education, work, etc. Their resourcefulness was animated by the Holy Spirit and by a strong and generous love for their brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and most disadvantaged.

“Dear young people”, the Pope added, “allow yourselves to be conquered by Christ. Start decisively down the path of sanctity, the path (which is open to everyone) of contact with and conformity to God. Thus you too will become more creative in seeking solutions to the problems you encounter and in seeking them together; for this is another distinctive sign of Christians: they are never individualists”.

In this context, Benedict XVI explained that by choosing the hermit life Pietro da Morrone’s was not fleeing responsibility because, “in the experiences approved by the Church, the solitary life of prayer and penance is always at the service of the community, it is open to others, it never contrasts with the needs of the community. Hermitages and monasteries are oases and wellsprings of spiritual life from which everyone can draw. The monk lives not for himself, but for others. It is for the good of the Church and society that he cultivates the contemplative life, that the Church and society may be ever irrigated with new energies, with the action of the Lord”.

The Pope concluded by telling the young people to “love the Church: she gave you the faith, she brought you to know Christ. … Conserve your enthusiasm, your joy, the joy that comes from having met the Lord, and communicate this to your friends and peers. … In you, I feel, the Church is young. … Walk in the way of the Gospel; love the Church our mother: be simple and pure of heart; be mild and strong in the truth; be humble and generous”.

At the end of the meeting the Pope descended to the crypt where he venerated the relics of St. Panfilo and St. Celestine V. He then traveled to the nearby Pallozzi Stadium where he bid farewell to the authorities and, at 5.45 p.m., departed by helicopter for the Vatican.

Actor of VIANNEY Drama Rejoices at News of Pope Benedict’s Proclamation

June 10, 2010

VANCOUVER, Wash. (MetroCatholic) — There are likely few people who can confidently state that they have experienced the Year for Priests more intensely than most. Perhaps most surprisingly, it was not a priest. Acclaimed actor Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions ( http://stlukeproductions.com/) is that man, the star of the theatrical one-man, live drama VIANNEY (http://vianneydrama.com/) which has been on a successful nationwide tour since August of 2009. An actor, husband and family man, Defilippis clearly understands why Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim St. John Vianney as the patron of all priests at the ceremonies marking the finale to the Year for Priests in Rome.

In just ten short months, Defilippis brought the riveting story of John Vianney, the priest who valiantly battled the devil to save souls, face-to-face with audiences which now total 80,000 — making it one of the most popular plays in the country. And in theatrical numbers, that is something to note. Not only did church goers turn out in record numbers, but bishops, priests, seminarians and religious orders did so as well, which was unprecedented. Beyond the numbers and the focus on priests, there was another undercurrent moving - Defilippis witnessed the fruits of the Year for Priests firsthand, and what he experienced was unexpected.

When Defilippis would routinely offer a few remarks following the show which included asking audiences to be grateful for and to pray for their priests, the people cheered in long, standing ovations. “They were cheering for their priests and they were cheering for John Vianney. At times, it was difficult to get them to settle down,” Defilippis added. When they saw this example of a priest through the portrayal of VIANNEY, it touched on a hunger deep inside — the bottom line is that they want that kind of priest. People want to have a pastor who will truly sacrifice his life — beyond all comfort and concern for himself.

The itinerant actor who also spent himself, often working 18 hours days with traveling and performing, got a taste of that sacrifice, but it was worth it. He believes that this infusion of fervor and zeal which he witnessed firsthand is exactly what is lacking today and, this may just prove to be the proverbial ’shot in the arm’ which the priesthood needs. “Pope Benedict XVI knows the root of the solution to the problems of the priesthood — it can be found in John Vianney himself. He is the boldest defense of the priesthood.” In fact, many do not realize that upon proclaiming the Year for Priests, the Pope clearly stated that he chose this year in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of this beloved saint “to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.”

It turned out that St. John Vianney was not very well known to many in the pews, pulpit or press, so the timing of the live drama was right on target. VIANNEY became an inspiration to priests who were deeply moved, some to tears. Parishioners discovered a new appreciation for the priesthood and felt a renewed sense of importance to earnestly pray for their priests. In many locations, the VIANNEY drama became tied to a larger spiritual event, incorporating the Sacraments of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession, a unique phenomenon never witnessed before in association with a drama.

This fast-paced production also had a tremendous attraction for the youth. Young people loved the story of a true hero willing to sacrifice for a cause worth fighting, especially against the terrifying image of the devil, a real satanic presence that appeared consistently to provoke Vianney. Young ladies were also quite drawn to the major character of St. Philomena who represents hope and purity to counterbalance the evil in the world.

VIANNEY ( http://vianneydrama.com/) also became a tool for vocations. Defilippis states, “It became almost routine to expect a young man to approach me afterwards and indicate that he felt the calling to discern the priesthood.” Father Jerry Vinke, Director of Vocations in the Diocese of Lansing called the production “a great boost for vocations.” He added, “As some young man told me afterward, ‘how could you not think about the priesthood after watching (the play).’”

Defilippis is grateful to have made a unique contribution to this jubilee year. “Bringing sanctity to the performing arts is so important for our times and this moving production has the real potential to strengthen and convert the people — that’s the beauty of live drama. So let us pray as thousands of priests gather from all points across the globe at the Vatican to offer solidarity to the Catholic priesthood with Pope Benedict XVI. This will be a sight to long remember, when a simple and once unlikely-to succeed pastor of the past will be held up forever for his holiness, his sacrifice and his perseverance against all odds. St. John Vianney truly speaks to our modern world.”

VIANNEY ( http://vianneydrama.com/) will continue on tour in the U.S., Canada, and internationally for another year. There has even been interest from Rome to perform at several venues in the future, and for the Holy Father himself. For a complete list of performance locations, and for information on bringing this professional production to your church or community, visit www.vianneydrama.com or call 1-800-683-2998.

Pro-abortion Speaker Pelosi says public policy should line up with Christian teachings

June 3, 2010

Washington D.C. (CNA).- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, addressing a May 6 Catholic conference on Capitol Hill, said she believes Catholics must pursue public policy in keeping with the values of “the Word made flesh” and must be prepared to answer to Jesus Christ for how their actions “measured up.” Pelosi, a pro-abortion rights Catholic, has been rebuked for her statements supporting abortion.

Her recent comments on religion came at the event “A Washington Briefing for the Nation’s Catholic Community,” sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter and Trinity Washington University.

According to CNSNews.com, Speaker Pelosi remarked:

“They ask me all the time, ‘What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that?’ And one time, ‘What is your favorite word?’ And I said, ‘My favorite word? That is really easy. My favorite word is the Word, is the Word. And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the biblical reference, you know the Gospel reference of the Word.”

“And that Word is, we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word. The Word. Isn’t it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers everything. The Word.

“Fill it in with anything you want. But, of course, we know it means: ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us’,” she continued, referring to the Prologue of the Gospel of John’s description of Jesus Christ.

“And that’s the great mystery of our faith. He will come again. He will come again. So, we have to make sure we’re prepared to answer in this life, or otherwise, as to how we have measured up.”

The San Francisco Democrat has a history of invoking religion. In March she invoked St. Joseph’s intercession to help pass health care legislation.

She also has a history of run-ins with church authorities over her support for abortion.

In a February 2009 meeting with Speaker Pelosi at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life.

After the meeting the Holy See’s press office reported that the Pontiff “took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”

The press office added that these teachings enjoin all Catholics, “especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society” to work together to create “a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

In an August 2008 interview with Meet the Press, Speaker Pelosi responded to a question about when human life begins by saying that “as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition … St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

Her comments, which came just before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, drew correction from Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput. He said “ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil.”

Other politicians speaking at last month’s Washington Briefing included Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). Additional speakers were Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, and columnist E.J. Dionne.

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