Friday, June 29, 2012

Pope approves Archbishop Sheen's heroic virtues, step toward sainthood

Archbishop Sheen is pictured preaching in an undated photo. (CNS photo)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Vatican announced June 28, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause.

Among the others honored in decrees announced the same day were first prelate of Opus Dei, the Canadian and Irish-American founders of two orders of religious women, a priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, and 154 martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War.

Archbishop Sheen heroically lived Christian virtues and should be considered "venerable," said a decree issued by the Congregation for Saints' Causes and signed by Pope Benedict. Before the archbishop can be beatified, the Vatican must recognize that a miracle has occurred through his intercession.

The decree came just more than 13 months after Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of Archbishop Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria.

Archbishop Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His program, "Life is Worth Living," aired in the United States from 1951 to 1957.

With evidence of her son's alleged miraculous healing boxed and sealed in front of a portrait of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Bonnie Engstrom gives a reading at a Mass last December at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, Ill. Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of Archbishop Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause. (CNS file/Tom Dermody, The Catholic Post)
Last September, a tribunal of inquiry was sworn in to investigate the allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents had prayed to the archbishop's intercession.

The Vatican also announced papal decrees approving the beatification of 158 men and women, including 156 martyrs, all but two of them Spaniards, killed during their country's 1936-39 Civil War.

Father Giuseppe Puglisi, a Sicilian priest and activist against organized crime who was killed by the Mafia in 1993, was another of the martyrs recognized.

Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession in order to be beatified. However, miracles must be recognized by the Vatican in order for martyrs to be canonized.

 By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Are We Insulting the Father by Not Dressing Properly?

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Addresses Church Attire:

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Summer is upon us, bringing vacations, picnics and beach parties. Actually we have been blessed with summer-like weather for several weeks. The warm weather has also brought out summer apparel earlier than usual. Unfortunately, skimpy garb more suitable for vacations, picnics and beach parties has also made its way into church as the clothing of choice for many people. In visiting many of our parishes this spring for confirmation as well as attending some commencement ceremonies, I have noticed more and more people wearing short shorts, tank-tops and flip-flops. Even the more formal wear with slit-leg dresses, bare midriffs and strapless tops looks more suited to a House of Blues than the House of God.

Now I’m sure some people will immediately object to my making these observations, rationalizing that it is better that these people come to church even if they’re not properly dressed rather than not have them there at all. They argue that we should just be happy that they’re in church, regardless of what they wear. I disagree.

St. Paul said “to dress modestly, with decency and propriety,” adorned “not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Similarly, St. Peter wrote, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

In the parable of the wedding banquet, Jesus said that “when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:11-14).

Of course, Jesus did not tell this parable to give a literal instruction on how to dress at a wedding, but to illustrate God’s righteousness as “garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10), where the acquisition of these qualities is likened to clothing given us at a wedding. But Jesus could tell this parable because his listeners were familiar with the custom that refusal to wear a proper wedding garment was an insult to the father of the groom and could get a guest ejected from the festivities.

The church is the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27) and the faithful, clothed in their wedding garments, are called to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:8-9). Our revised translation of the Roman Missal now brings out that imagery more clearly when the priest presents the Body and Blood of Christ to us at Mass saying, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” As we go up to receive Jesus in holy Communion, we should not insult the Father by not dressing properly for this foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
For now, one very practical area that we could work on would be for everyone to dress with proper dignity for Mass, whether it is celebrated in the ordinary or the extraordinary form.
May God give us this grace. Amen.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Curriculum In Cleveland Diocese Stresses Orthodoxy and Moral Clarity!

In response to concerns raised by teachers and clergy, the Diocese of Cleveland has revamped its high school religion curriculum for the upcoming year, with a focus on orthodoxy and moral clarity.
Bishop Lennon
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Lyons told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the new program, developed under Bishop Richard G. Lennon, was “Gospel-centered” and “very orthodox.” The new teaching materials, she said, also corrected “a shyness about talking about moral issues.”

After his appointment in 2006, Bishop Lennon heard concerns raised about the quality of religious instruction in local Catholic schools. Several years of assessments and meetings resulted in changes to the elementary school materials, and a comprehensive overhaul of the high school curriculum.
Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and guidelines from the U.S. bishops’ conference, the new program reintroduces elements of Catholic tradition that were “known to previous generations of Catholics but absent from more recent instruction,” Superintendent Lyons told CNA on June 5.
The curriculum, she said, “underscores Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery” as the source of salvation."
Under the new program, she explained, “students read and are guided through Church documents. They are taught the role and importance of the Magisterium in guarding and passing on the faith, as well as being a sure guide to positive thinking and behavior.”
“Additionally, students are instructed in ancient prayer practices used throughout the Church’s two thousand years of history, including the Rosary, Lectio Divina, meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Psalms, litanies and readings in Sacred Scripture.”
In response to widespread confusion about the nature and importance of the Church, the program also stresses the Church’s unique standing as a divine and human institution, taught and governed by an apostolic authority with “its origin in Jesus Christ.”
Cleveland’s new curriculum also seeks to cultivate an enduring and lifelong faith, capable of standing up to cultural secularism and moral relativism. Students are challenged to learn about virtue and understand it as the source of true personal fulfillment, Lyons said.
“The life of virtue is presented as a life that flourishes with what satisfies their desire for happiness and freedom,” she noted. “Students are instructed in natural moral law, grace and virtue as founded in God.”
Although the program seeks to correct the weaknesses of some recent approaches to religious education, it does not do away with the goal of making catechesis relevant to the modern world and the concerns of youth.
“The instructional strategy,” Lyons said, “is to show to students how Christ has been present to his Church, not just now, but throughout all of human history, and so will remain, despite sin, war and internal turmoil. The Church is the Body of Christ on earth and will remain until Christ comes again.”
It is from this Christ-centered perspective, she explained, that students will be taught to “examine the issues found in history and in the modern era that can cloud the vision of Christ.”
In his letter authorizing the release of the new high school curriculum, Bishop Lennon praised the diocesan Office of Catholic Education’s program for offering “both sound doctrine and effective instructional practice and resources.”
“Save for the celebration of the sacraments,” the Bishop of Cleveland wrote, “there is no more important work than the formation of our young people in the faith.”
By:  Benjamin Mann