Program #0206 for Thursday, December 22, 2011: Christmas message from Cardinal Seán and Bishop Coleman; Profile of Cardinal Seán in the Boston Herald; Pastoral letter for undocumented immigrants; the famous musical Fr. Pat; New pastor; New saints

December 22, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry

Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, executive editor of The Anchor, the newspaper of the Fall River diocese; and Gregory Tracy, managing editor of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston archdiocese

Links from today’s show:

  • The Anchor
  • The Pilot
  • Some of the stories discussed on this show will be available on The Pilot’s and The Anchor’s websites on Friday morning. Please check those sites for the latest links.

Today’s topics: Christmas message from Cardinal Seán and Bishop Coleman; Profile of Cardinal Seán in the Boston Herald; Pastoral letter for undocumented immigrants; the famous musical Fr. Pat; New pastor; New saints

Summary of today’s show: In our last news show of the year, Scot Landry, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy discuss Cardinal Seán’s Christmas message that will air on Vatican Radio, as well Bishop George Coleman’s message to the Fall River diocese; a laudatory front-page profile of Cardinal Seán in the Boston Herald; a pastoral letter from Hispanic bishops of the US to undocumented immigrants; the famous musical Fr. Pat from La Salette who’s celebrating 40 years of ministry; a new pastor for Catholics in Townsend; and miracles to make new American saints.

1st segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Roger and Greg to show and noted how today is the first day of winter, but it’s 53 degrees outside. He asked Fr. Roger how his Christmas planning is going and whether it’s easier for priests when Christmas is on a Sunday. Greg talked about Christmas traditions for his family, which is a blended family of both Cuban traditions and New England traditions. Scot and Fr. Roger talked about their family gathering in New Bedford at Fr. Roger’s church on Christmas Eve.

2nd segment: Scot said Cardinal Seán recorded a Christmas message for the world to air on Vatican Radio. WQOM listeners get a preview of the message today.

  • [Cardinal Seán’s Christmas message to air on Vatican Radio across the world]

This is Cardinal Seán O’Malley from the Archdiocese of Boston. At Christmas our God comes to us as a humble pilgrim in search of hospitality. Nourished by the bread of life that comes to us from the manger, let us open our hearts in welcome to this Divine Humble Pilgrim, to the Lord Jesus. By reaching out with compassion and loving care we can give Him hospitality as he comes to us disguised in the hungry, the homeless, the mentally ill, the imprisoned, the stranger, the immigrant. Jesus came to reveal the merciful face of the father: the poor, the sick, the marginalized were the protagonists of His Gospel. It is our task to be the merciful face of Christ – as the Father sent me, so I send you Jesus tells us.

He does not send us alone but with our brothers and sisters whose faith and solidarity sustains us. And He gives us the spiritual food of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. At Christmas we come to the manger to see the Baby Pictures and rejoice as we look at our Family Album. But our faith tells us that Christ born at Bethlehem 2000 years ago is still, Emmanuel, God with us. He comes to offer us His friendship and love and to invite us to a life of discipleship in His Church. At Bethlehem the Shepherds were filled with joy and wonder and were anxious to share that joy with others. Knowing the Lord, carries with it an obligation to make Him known and loved.

Christmas is the feast of the Child, the Christ child, our God who made Himself small to be close to us. Jesus says in the Gospel- Unless you become like a little child you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God came to us in the humility and simplicity of a little baby—God’s love in face of a child, always new, always fresh, that never tires of loving us, of giving us another chance. We can go to Him only in the humility and simplicity of a child. Children have a sense of trust in their parents – God wants us to have that trust in Him and in His love. At Christmas we are able to catch a glimpse of the face of God and His love. When we discover His love, we discover who we are. Merry Christmas to all of you who are listening.

Scot said he was struck how we can describe Jesus by serving those who come disguised as the poor, the hungry, the ill, the immigrant. Greg was thinking of how in the Old Testament God would show himself as a cloud with thunder and lightning that terrified the people who said they didn’t want to see him. So instead God came in a form that wouldn’t terrify us, but is a sign of meekness.

Scot said at Christmas, God talks on flesh to show us his love. His face is that of a baby. Fr. Roger said it is a remarkable sign. The child wrapped in swaddinling clothes is a very ordinary sign for the extraordinary Lord to appear in.

Pope Benedict talked a few years ago about this translation confusion about what the angels say to the shepherds. What is the good will they t alk about? It’s not just peace to those of us who are Christian. It is God’s good will and our good will comes in response to God’s good will by imitating that humility of God by going out in serving all the rest, not to be afraid to be poor or immersed in the lowest human reality to continue to serve Christ’s mission of lifting up others. We need to become like children. We need to abbreviate ourselves like a God abbreviated himself in a child.

Scot said a few weeks ago he trashed a slam-piece in the Boston Herald against the Church, but today, Joe Fitzgerald has a really good profile of the Cardinal. He talks about his Christmas traditions growing up in eastern Ohio.

“My father always waited until Christmas Eve to get our tree because he wanted us to be excited when we got up,” he recalled, smiling. “He and my uncle Ed would go to get it together. Ed was our bachelor uncle, the fun uncle, the one who’d set up our electric trains. “By Christmas Eve, of course, the trees were pretty well picked over, so sometimes they’d have to buy two, then drill holes into one in order to stick in replacement branches.”

The absurdity of that story made him laugh. “Then we’d all go to my grandmother’s house for dinner, all the uncles, aunts and cousins, an all-day affair where we’d sing carols before heading off to Mass together. I came from a very faith-filled family.”

[…]

It meant telling his parents, Ted and Mary Louise, of the path he had chosen to follow. “Their reaction was a blessing to me. They said, ‘That’s great. Try it! And then if you decide it isn’t for you, you can always come home.’ They wanted me to know I had their support one way or the other, which was a wonderful attitude. You don’t want to be so enthusiastic that a kid feels he can’t turn back.” For O’Malley, there was no turning back. “I never had any doubts.”

The cardinal then talked about his work in Washington, DC, among Spanish-speaking immigrants in the turbulent Sixties and Seventies. And at the end of the article:

“And I guess that’s the message I’d most want to give others this Christmas, that we have a loving and all-powerful God who wants us to feel how close He is to us. “That would be it; I’d love us all to catch just a glimpse of the love He has for us.’

Fr. Roger said Joe Fitzgerald is one of the best columnists in New England. He’s always written sympathetically of believers and has always been on the side of the mission of Christ in the world. Despite his Irish last name, he is Protestant but is very fair and friendly to Catholics. Greg said the editors could have buried the column, but they made it a front-page headline.

Greg said most people’s only exposure to the Cardinal is a soundbite in the news or his policy decisions, but very few people actually know the man. It brings to a wide audience a picture of this man who comes from a background of faith and has a very normal background and upbringing.

Scot said Bishop George Coleman of the Diocese of Fall River also has a Christmas message in The Anchor this week.

Dear friends in Christ, This holy season provides me the opportunity once again to share with each and every one of you the Good News that God has become man and is born among us. Of course, Our Lord’s Nativity is an event that happened long ago. The basic story is surely familiar to all of you: the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God, in Bethlehem more than 2.000 years ago. Christ entered the world not as a conquering king at the head of an army in a mighty show of power, but as a defenseless child, born in poverty.

The first Christmas can seem like an occurrence from a long time ago that once took place in a faraway land. Yet, it is an event which happens even today and which can speak to all of us again. The birth of a child is always a momentous occasion which fills all people with hope.

But, this Child was no ordinary infant; for, Hc was the Son of God. And, when He takes on our human flesh with all its weaknesses, He reveals in Himself and in the power of the Holy Spirit, the true nature of humanity, the true worth of all human life, and the dignity of every person.

We cannot, however; overlook the challenges that face us today: a slow economy, unemployment and underemployment, addictions and drugs, crime and violence, wars, and a morbid fascination with darkness. We bring all these troubles to Christ. We offer them to Him. We ask Him to transform them for us and to turn them into something life-giving. As our Holy Father Benedict XVI assures us, the birth of Christ has the power to change the world, “for it bas the power to choose hearts, to enlighten minds, and to strengthen Wills? (homily at Mass in Manger’s Square in Bethlehem, May 13,209).

At Christmas, Jesus calls us to be witnesses of His victory over sin, death, and sadness. Therefore,let nil men and women, believers and non-believers, but especially all Christians, rejoice at the birth of Christ, which brings a divine light into the world now and forever.

May the Infant Jesus bless you and your families with the peace and joy of this holy season.

Scot reiterated that Christians must rejoice at the joy of Christmas and be joyful witnesses. Greg said earlier in the letter he spoke about the idea that we can easily think of the coming of Christ as something that happened 2,000 years ago, but Christ can be born in our heart at any time. We need his help to overcome his sin and so we need his presence to be born in us.

Scot noted how he said that we need to bring our troubles to Christ and ask him to transform them. Fr. Roger said “Jesus” means God saves. “Emmanuel” means God with us. We’re not alone in facing our challenges. We have the one who conquered sin and death on our side. He may not take them away, but he will help us not to be overcome by them.

It’s time to announce this week’s winner of the WQOM Benefactor Raffle.

Our prizes this week are “Let Us Adore Him”, a music CD of traditional Christmas hymns by the Dady Brothers and Friends; Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus by Fr. Dave Pivonka, and Spiritual Freedom: God’s Life-changing Gift, also by Fr. Pivonka.

This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Richard Grande from Concord, MA. Congratulation, Richard!

If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.

3rd segment: Scot said earlier this week a group of US Hispanic bishops wrote a pastoral letter to undocumented immigrants in the US.

Fr. Roger said a lot of immigrants feel totally abandoned, like the wandering Holy Family in Bethlehem, who are told there’s no room for them in our country. The bishops said regardless of their legal status, they have a home in the Catholic Church and they will be welcomed with open arms. The bishops noted that they are sometimes scapegoated for some of the economic issues facing our country. Fr. Roger said it was an unprecedented of the 33 Latino bishops in the US. It doesn’t mean that immigration laws aren’t important, but that we need to have our eyes open that beyond the legal issues and real concerns for safe borders, we do need to look at those in our country as people beloved by God.

Scot noted statistics that show that there are more low-income jobs than those willing to take them in the US, but there are only about 70,000 visas available for immigrants who would want these jobs. Greg said the bishops are advocating for a rational immigration reform.

Fr. Roger said immigration isn’t just an issue to be solved. It’s our brothers and sisters who need to know the love of God.

4th segment: Last Saturday, the Women Affirming Life breakfast saw record numbers. Increasingly, women are bringing their own young daughters to the breakfast to begin preparing them to take up the battle for life. Scot said having women leading the pro-life side disproves the argument that legal abortion is a necessary right for women.

“That so many Catholics come together and so readily share their values through this event is a sign of hope not only for the Pro-Life movement but for the Catholic Church as well,” said Marianne Luthin, director of the Archdiocese of BostOn Pro-Life Office, which oversees WALI.

The primary speaker was Sister Maris Stella Karalekas of the Sisters of Life religious order, which is dedicated to pro-life work. Fr. Roger said they not only care for women in crisis pregnancy but also taking the message out to the world and educating people about pro-life.

Moving to a new topic, he reviewed an article in the Pilot about the new CatholicTV show for women called “The Gist”.

Scot talked about the hosts and the audience it’s aimed at. He noted that we talked about it at length on yesterday’s show. Greg talked about how the show can be a good outreach to young mothers who might have drifted away from Church and discover it on cable TV.

In the Anchor this week is a profile of Fr. Pat of the LaSalette Shrine in Attleboro and his 40 years of musical ministry. He does two concerts a day during Advent at the shrine which is famous for its Christmas lights and displays. He’s had a busy year traveling to India and cutting new CDs. He has a beautiful gift of using music to connect the faith to where people are in their faith today.

Scot said in the Pilot this week are some new priest assignments announced, including Fr. Jeremy St. Martin who has been made pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Townsend, and leaving his ministry as coordinator of deaf Catholic ministry in the archdiocese. Scot said Townsend is the farthest corner of the Archdiocese. Greg said he always shows a special preference for Townsend and Ashby when covering stories about events there because of how far they are.

Scot said there is an article about Mother Marianne Cope, who ministered alongside St. Damien of Molokai among the lepers. Scot said she was named Servant of God only in 2003, beatified in 2005, and will be canonized soon, which is very quick. Fr. Roger said there were many miracles attributed to Bl. Marianne. He also noted that Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha will also be canonized. It’s very exciting for our country, which has only 10 saints so far. As far as they are aware, she is the first American laywoman who will be a saint.

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