Program #0438 for Thursday, December 20, 2012: Newtown, CT; Catholic Faith Essentials; Missionary Childhood Association; Catholic Voices USA; Preparing for Christmas

December 20, 2012

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Summary of today’s show: Our usual thursday panel of Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Gregory Tracy, and Fr. Roger Landry consider the news headlines of the week, including the Catholic response to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut; the beginning of a new online faith formation course for the Year of Faith called Catholic Faith Essentials; local children winning a national artwork competition for the Missionary Childhood Association; Catholic Voices USA training in Boston for media evangelization; Women Affirming Life Advent breakfast; an award for My Brother’s Keeper; restoring a 100-year-old organ; and preparing for Christmas.

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, managing editor of the Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, and Fr. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River

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: Newtown, CT; Catholic Faith Essentials; Missionary Childhood Association; Catholic Voices USA; Preparing for Christmas

1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show and announced that next week we’ll be running “best of” shows next week while the staff takes some time off. This afternoon, Cardinal Seán is celebrating a Mass for the staff of the Pastoral Center. The Pilot is taking a hiatus next week as well, but also preparing for the ordination of Bishop Deeley as they come back with a 50-page special edition. The ordination Mass is Friday, January 4 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Fr. Roger Landry said there’s a new venerable in the Church that many will know. Pope Paul VI has been declared venerable, meaning that after a lengthy study of his entire life, he has been declared to have lived Christian virtues to a high degree. Pope Paul led the Church through a very difficult time in society and in the life of the Church with all the upheaval of the Sixties and Seventies. In 500 or 1,000 years, what Paul VI wrote in Humanae Vitae will continue to be revered as preaching an important truth that was proclaimed heroically out of season.

Scot said his primary memory of Pope Paul VI was hearing of his death from his parents. Susan said she has more memories of the Pope, of traveling to Rome during a Holy Year and going to an audience with the Pope. As the Pope came in, her son was lifted up to the Pope who blessed and kissed the child. Her son later wrote about the sense of importance attached to that moment for the rest of his life. After the audience, people crowded around to kiss the boy’s head. Scot said if miracles are attributed to the intercessory prayers to Paul VI he could be then beatified and canonized. One miracle is already being evaluated for his beatification. Fr. Roger encouraged listeners to ask the Lord specifically through the intercession of Venerable Paul VI for any needs they might have.

Venerable Pope Paul VI kissing Susan Abbott's son on the head at a general audience

Venerable Pope Paul VI kissing Susan Abbott’s son on the head at a general audience

Scot said the big news across the country is the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, last Friday. The coverage in Catholic news is slightly different, with focus on the Church’s response.

Scot said this could have been any community near us. It was not at all unusual. Cardinal Seán preached about this at all of his Masses last weekend. Greg said it reminded him a little of 9/11 in how it shocked and shook people. Like 9/11 people are turning to their faith for answers to this senseless violence. The story in the Pilot was about the Mass at 11:30 that was scheduled for the Rite of Blessing of the Child in the Womb. He tied together the horror people felt, calling for a ban on assault weapons, calling for improved mental health care. He recalled the Feast of the Holy Innocents and how in this time of joy of Christmas there was also a great sadness of the loss of the innocents in Bethlehem.

Scot said in the face of this madness, everyone wants to do something. One of our young Catholics in this Archdiocese, a young woman who was just confirmed in Needham, organized one of the largest candlelight vigils in the area. Jackie Arrondo, 16, of St. Joseph Parish wanted to do something. She rallied support from everywhere in town and 70 people came despite the cold rain that evening. Susan also said she heard from a friend who sent out emails to her friends, asking everyone to pray daily for one of the victims and their family.

Scot said one of the faces of the Church’s response has been Msgr. Bob Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish in Newtown. Fr. Roger said you could see the graces of his priestly ordination working through him. No one is ever trained for this as a priest. He had been clear that there are no magic words in a time like this. Just being present to someone, they show that God is with those in pain. Only God can give the definitive answer. The second thing way he proclaimed was by his tears. He broke down on national television and its important for everyone to see that we Christians grieve, but we grieve differently. We don’t grieve as if there is no hope. We had tremendous confidence in the salvation of these first-graders. Many of the parents have also given witness to their Christian faith. Fr. Roger said he changed his own homilies this past weekend to confront this reality because it’s on everyone’s mind. He tried to say that the one who mourns most is the One who lost 28 children that day, but that’s not where God the Father stops. He had sent His own Son into a world that was even worse than ours, even more violent. A man could kill his own family or his slaves for any reason. Herod could slaughter all the children legally. But Jesus came into that world and redeemed and over the course of time, we have built a culture on the Prince of Peace, a culture that respects other human beings. the most important thing we need to recognize that our culture needs God and that’s the biggest thing we need to change.

Fr. Roger said he was happy at the interfaith prayer service that President Obama spoke at that no one was ashamed to turn to God. Scot said most of the opinion pieces in the Pilot deal with this and Scot said John Garvey’s is one of the best. Greg said Garvey says that we’ve devalued human life and in the end we’re reaping what we’ve sown. He writes about what all these recent mass murderers have in common including a lack of love and hope. Jesus gives us love and hope. It’s not inconsequential then when people tell us to keep our faith out of the public square.

I think we won’t make real headway with the problem unless we change the culture, and that is a job for us, not for the government or the psychiatric profession.

The culture that young men grow up in is one where violence is not just present but glamorized. At the national and corporate levels we see unjust wars and the arms trade. At the state level, capital punishment. At the individual level we give constitutional protection to abortion, to video games that simulate assault and murder, and in some places to assisted suicide.

We teach our children that they are autonomous moral actors, responsible for defining their values. This produces a culture where the strong decide the fate of the weak. Then when something like this happens we want the government to protect us from the natural consequences of our own folly.

When Cain killed Abel, he tried to deflect the Lord’s inquiry by suggesting that we are each in charge of our own affairs: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We have to relearn Cain’s lesson. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. All life is sacred. We must teach our children habits of virtue, not leave them to chart their own course through the moral life.

2nd segment: In the Pilot this week, we learn that the Archdiocese of Boston is beginning an online faith formation course starting on January 7 and continuing for 30 Monday nights in total. People can participate in their own homes or as groups in parishes. They will be webcast live at 7pm on Mondays or viewers can watch the recordings at their convenience.

r. Roger said online learning is becoming more popular and he’s thrilled that the Archdiocese of Boston is piloting a program like this. Especially in this year of Faith when we’re all called to live our faith better. Fr. Roger hopes to encourage his own parishioners to participate. It’s not just for Catholics in the Archdiocese or Massachusetts or even the US. We could have people throughout the English-speaking parts of the world because there aren’t similar offerings. Scot said this is free and he hopes that people from everywhere will participate.

Also in the Pilot, the Women Affirming Life Advent breakfast took place on December 15. Susan said it was right after the Newtown shooting and it affected all those there. More than 300 people attended. She said it was good for them to be together for Mass and breakfast, especially in the busy-ness of Advent. The Cardinal spoke about it in his homily and also spoke about a woman in the Midwest who’d had quintuplets in the early 1960s and gained some fame for her openness to life who recently died. She said Msgr. James Moroney also addressed the group and offered a gentle wit and great insight and comforting words.

Another story in the Pilot is a story about two local grade-school students who won a national artwork contest for Christmas. They do this contest every year and the winners go to Washington, DC, for a Mass in the Basilica.

There are 24 winners nationwide and having two from Boston is a big deal. Dominic Udoakang, grade 4, from Cathedral Elementary School in Boston and Jacinta Jaranja, grade 4, from St. Patrick School in Lowell, were the winners.

Also in the Pilot, Catholic Voices USA will hold training for laypeople in the Pastoral Center at the beginning of March. Fr. Roger said it prepares bright, young Catholics to be defenders of the Church and her teachings in the media in particular. The group has already had an impact during the HHS mandate debates. Young people throughout New England will be trained to become good evangelizers. It’s not just goodwill and knowledge, but technique is also important for being effective. The training isn’t just for TV and radio appearances, but also for people engaging family members, friends, and local newspapers. They will learn how to frame issues and help people according to their own categories to come to the truth. Scot said they’ve already done trainings in Washington, DC, and New York. They’ve had hundreds of applications for the limited number of spots so Scot encouraged people to apply early.

Also in the Pilot are two groups advancing toward ordination as Permanent Deacons. Greg said Cardinal Seán has been supportive of the ministry of permanent deacons in the Archdiocese. In recent years, ordinations have increased from every two years to annual. He said the Pilot is working with the Office of Permanent Deacons to give more visibility to the ministry of deacons. The 11 men who became acolytes are John D. Barry; John H. Beagan. Jr.; John J. Burkly; Paul G. Coletti; Richard J. Cussen; Timothy F. Donohue; Joseph R. Flocco; Joseph P. Harrington; William M. Jackson: Kevin P. Martin, Jr.; and William R. Proulx.

The 10 men entering formation, and their home parishes, are: Timothy Booker, St. Bridget Parish (Abington); Paul Carroll, St. Theresa of Lisieux Parish (Sherborn); Joseph Dorlus, St. Angela Parish (Mattapan); James Kearney, St. Mary Parish (Wrentham); Kelley McCormick, St. Mary of the Assumption Parish (Dedham); Jonathan
Mosely. St. Bernadette Parish (Randolph); Charles Rossignol, Immaculate Conception Parish (Marlborough); Jose Torres, St. Benedict Parish (Somerville); Roger Vierra, St. Helen Parish (Norwell): and Thomas Walsh, St. William Parish (Tewksbury).

Scot said our friends from My Brother’s Keeper, Jim and Terry Orcutt, have won a national award from Holy Cross Family Ministries.

Also in the Anchor is a great story from St. Anthony in New Bedford about efforts to raise funds for their 100-year-old organ. Fr. Roger said some of the greatest organists in the country have given concerts there on this organ which is a masterpiece. Restoring an organ means all the wooden and leather parts which corrode over time need to be replaced. He said we can’t depend only on the poor people who live in inner-city New Bedford to pick up the whole cost.

Also in both newspapers is a lot of information about preparing for the last week of Advent and Christmas. Scot asked Susan about her preparations for Christmas. She said she tells herself that Jesus will come whether we are ready or not.

Susan said she was in a store recently and was appalled at what is being sold for Christmas cards. She wishes we could all remember the reason for the season. She couldn’t find a single box of Christmas cards with a religious theme.

Scot said he’s noticed a lot of his Catholic friends have started sending cards that said Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays, but this year almost all of the cards he’s received from Catholics have said Merry Christmas.

Fr. Roger wrote in his column this week that the great scandal of Christmas is that there was no room at the inn and that we have to get right what the innkeepers got wrong. Too often we make those who come to Mass only on Christmas and Easter unwelcome. The New Evangelization is about making people welcome to come back again and again. We have to make these people feel welcome by our actions, by helping them feel comfortable being there and showing our love to them.

Scot said the Pilot has a section each week called Faith Alive, which is a response to Cardinal Seán’s desire to have more faith formation material. The last few weeks it has focused on Advent and this week on Christmas.

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