Nativity Catholic Cluster: Nativity of our Lord and St. Johns Parishes

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Division, segregation a threat to humanity, pope tells indigenous people

Christians must convert to ecumenism, cardinal says

Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot

Reading 1 1 Sm 17:32-33, 37, 40-51

David spoke to Saul:
"Let your majesty not lose courage.
I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine."
But Saul answered David,
"You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him,
for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth."

David continued:
"The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear,
will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine."
Saul answered David, "Go! the LORD will be with you."

Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi
and put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag.
With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.

With his shield bearer marching before him,
the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.
When he had sized David up,
and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance,
the Philistine held David in contempt.
The Philistine said to David,
"Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?"
Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods
and said to him, "Come here to me,
and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field."
David answered him:
"You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,
but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.
Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand;
I will strike you down and cut off your head.
This very day I will leave your corpse
and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field;
thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.
All this multitude, too,
shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves.
For the battle is the LORD's and he shall deliver you into our hands."

The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters,
while David ran quickly toward the battle line
in the direction of the Philistine.
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone,
hurled it with the sling,
and struck the Philistine on the forehead.
The stone embedded itself in his brow,
and he fell prostrate on the ground.
Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone;
he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.
Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine's own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 144:1b, 2, 9-10

R. (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My refuge and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten-stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Alleluia See Mt 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to the Pharisees,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Pope to Chilean clergy: Sexual abuse a 'great and painful evil'

Young people at forefront of pro-life fight called 'new Magi' of movement

IMAGE: CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic

By Joyce Duriga

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Over 5,000 people from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and other Midwestern states gathered Jan. 14 in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago for the annual March for Life Chicago commemorating the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Participants carried signs with pro-life messages and balloons during the rally and march through the streets of downtown. The drum line from Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein played in the march.

Chris Murrens of Libertyville brought her two teen-age children to the march and said seeing the many youth and young adults in attendance was "heartwarming" and "inspirational."

"The heavenly Father is smiling. Our Lady is smiling. It's a great day," she told the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Murrens said she brought her two teenagers because she felt it was important to expose them to the event and the message.

"I want them to see how important this is and for them to be part of this generation that is turning things around to become more pro-life," Murrens said. "They are having a wonderful time and getting the message all at the same time."

Young people, especially in their teens, are impressionable and open to new things so that is a pivotal time to share the church's teaching that life is sacred from the womb until natural death, the mother of three said.

"This is when they see so much of what is going on in the world. This is the time when you can really grab their hearts and make a difference for the rest of their lives," she said.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich -- one of several speakers who addressed the gathering prior to the march -- applauded the witness of young people and, referring to the recent feast of Epiphany, called them "the new Magi."

"You give us confidence that the energy to protect the child in the womb has not grown weak over these 45 years, but is as youthful, strong and vibrant as you are," the cardinal said. "You are the new Magi in our time, who teach us all to keep our heads up, and amid the darkness of the night at times, to take heart that God is still in the heavens, guiding us like that Bethlehem star and keeping our dreams alive."

Quoting Pope Francis, Cardinal Cupich said that children make society "dream beyond ourselves."

"Taking human life, especially the life of the child in the womb, not only has an impact on that one human being but deeply wounds all of humanity, robs from us our ability to dream and see life as much bigger than our own concerns, challenges and struggles," he said. "Is it any wonder that we are so divided as a nation when we are so fixed only on ourselves, when we can no longer dream and see all that God is doing beyond ourselves?"

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision robbed the nation of its children and its dreams, he said.

"Now with the recent law passed by our Legislature and signed by our governor, more lives and dreams will be robbed as will family incomes that will be forcibly used to pay for abortions," Cardinal Cupich said referring to legislation Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law in 2017 that provides state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions.

"Can we not better use our tax dollars to support health care for families expecting children, and child care and assistance to parents when their children come into the world?" the cardinal asked. "Can we not better use our tax dollars to keep alive both our children and our dreams as a nation?"

Other speakers at the rally included Illinois Congressmen Dan Lipinski and Peter Roskum and former Planned Parenthood director Ramona Trevino.

Earlier in the day, Cardinal Cupich celebrated the archdiocesan Mass for Life at Holy Name Cathedral attended by a standing-room only crowd. During the Mass, young people brought white roses to the altar, commemorating lives lost to abortion and homicide in Chicago last year.

In the Denver Archdiocese a day earlier, about 3,000 people gathered outside the state Capitol in Denver for the annual Colorado March for Life. The afternoon rally and march were preceded by the celebration of several morning Masses at a number of churches, including one celebrated by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

"This is the Colorado piece of the largest civil rights movement in our lifetime," Lynn Grandon, archdiocesan Respect Life program director, said in advance of the Jan. 13 gathering.

More pro-life marches were planned around the country. Among those will be the fourth annual OneLife LA Jan. 20 in Los Angeles, followed exactly a week later by Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.

In Chicago, some of those who attended the Mass and rally also planned to travel to Washington for the national March for Life Jan. 19.

Others preparing to attend the march and rally in the nation's capital included students at Monsignor Bonner Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Catholic school leaders throughout the U.S. take thousands of their students to the regional or national March for Life events each year in an effort to engage them in the pro-life cause and to eventually pass the torch of leadership to them, said Steven Bozza, director of the Philadelphia archdiocesan Office for Life and Family.

The pro-life activists who have been embroiled in the movement for decades will not be able to go on forever and it's up to the current leaders to prepare the next generation of advocates, Bozza told Catholic News Service during an interview in Drexel Hill.

"We're going to win this battle," he said. "Maybe not tomorrow or next week. Maybe not this year, but we're going to win it. Especially with the new generation coming up."

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Duriga is editor of the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Contributing to this story was Chaz Muth in Drexel Hill.

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Bishop: Basilica title honors church's role in diocese, nation's founding

IMAGE: CNS photo/Zoey Maraist, Catholic Herald

By Zoey Maraist

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- The Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments declared St. Mary Church in Alexandria a minor basilica, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington announced to parishioners during Mass Jan. 14.

"It is an extraordinary honor to announce that the Holy See has designated St. Mary's in Old Town to be the newest basilica in the United States. This historic announcement recognizes the important role St. Mary's has played in the diocese, the city of Alexandria and even the very founding of our country," he said.

To be named a basilica, a church must have architectural or historic value and meet liturgical requirements, such as an adequate amount of space in the sanctuary and a fitting number of priests. There are only four major basilicas, all in Rome -- St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

There are thousands of minor basilicas throughout the world, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore and the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk.

Bishop Burbidge congratulated Father Edward C. Hathaway, pastor of the Alexandria church, and "all of the priests who have served this parish over the generations for their work in bringing St. Mary's to this special day. I pray that Our Lord continues to bless St. Mary's and its community for generations to come!"

A committee from St. Mary began to research the application process for becoming a basilica last January, according to Father Hathaway. Bishop Burbidge approved the application in June, and sent it to the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship. USCCB officials approved the plan in July, and sent it to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

"Today, we are overjoyed and humbled by the recognition of St. Mary as one of the major churches in the world dedicated to Christ," said Father Hathaway. "Thank you so much, Bishop Burbidge, for being here with us today, and for the encouragement and enthusiasm you have shown during the many months that led to this announcement."

"The naming of St. Mary as a minor basilica brings honor to the entire diocese and to Roman Catholics throughout the country," the priest continued. "As the first Catholic parish in Virginia and West Virginia, learning its history is to gain a greater insight into the spread of the Catholic faith in the former English colonies and throughout our nation."

In 1788, an Irish aide-de-camp of George Washington, Col. John Fitzgerald, held a fundraiser in his home for the construction of a Catholic church. Washington was the first to donate. In 1795, St. Mary was established as a mission of Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. Eventually, a church was built on South Royal Street, where the contemporary church stands, and was dedicated by Jesuit Father Francis Ignatius Neale in 1827.

Throughout the years, the church has undergone several repairs and renovations. Ministry buildings and offices such as the Lyceum as well as the cemetery are scattered around Old Town. The parish school, one of the largest in the diocese with around 700 students, was established in 1869 after a wave of poor Irish immigrants arrived in the area. Today, St. Mary has 7,100 registered parishioners and dozens of liturgical, fellowship and service ministries.

In the near future, the church will be marked with special signage indicating its new status. As with all basilicas, St. Mary will install an "ombrellino," a silk canopy designed with stripes of yellow and red -- the traditional papal colors -- and a "tintinnabulum," a bell mounted on a pole and carried during some processions.

"Crossed keys, which are the symbol of the papacy, will be placed prominently on the church exterior," said Father Hathaway.

St. Mary also has designed a seal, which all basilicas have. The symbols within the seal pay homage to the diocese, the Jesuits who founded the parish, and to Mary. In the bottom right quadrant of the shield is a ship, representing Alexandria's role as an important port town in colonial times. The vessel further represents the frigates that brought Catholic immigrants to the New World.

"The Ark and The Dove were the two famous ships, chartered by Cecil Calvert to transport 140 colonists to the shores of Maryland," according to a statement from St. Mary. "Similar ships brought the Jesuit founders, as well as many Irish and Scottish merchants, to the port city of Alexandria."

The seal is one of the many ways the new basilica will aim to share its past with visitors.

"We will be looking for ways to communicate our significant history and contribution to Catholicism in the commonwealth and beyond through printed guides and other means," said Father Hathaway.

The parishioners at the Jan. 14 Mass applauded the announcement. Sam Lukawski, a fifth-grader at St. Mary School, was one of the 11 altar servers at the Mass. "I was glad that it became a minor basilica and that it'll be (St. Mary Basilica) instead of St. Mary Church," he told the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper.

Pat Troy, a longtime parishioner, sent his children to the school and used to host Theology on Tap in his Alexandria bar. He loves the parish for its commitment to Mary, its priests and the fact that it was founded in part by an Irishman. "This was the first time (we) walked down the steps of this historic church as St. Mary Basilica," he said with reverence.

Jonathan Fililpowski and Nicole Hendershot are getting married at St. Mary in April. "We're excited to be able to get married at a basilica. It's a beautiful space to come and be able to worship, tied to the roots of our nation," she said.

Deborah and Glenn Cooper were thrilled by the announcement. "I'm so honored to be part of this historic occasion. It makes me want to go back and probe more into the history of the church and also into the whole meaning of being a basilica," she said.

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Maraist is on the staff of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

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Beatitudes are fruits of hope, not cheap talk, pope says in Chile

Vatican says Dutch politician's honor was simply diplomatic protocol

Pope asks forgiveness from victims of clergy sex abuse in Chile

Pope asks forgiveness from victims of clergy sex abuse in Chile

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Pope Francis, in his first formal speech in Chile, asked forgiveness from those who were sexually abused by priests.

Addressing government authorities and members of the country's diplomatic corps Jan. 16, the pope expressed his "pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

"I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensure that such things do not happen again," he said.

Preparations for Pope Francis' visit to Chile Jan. 15-18 were overshadowed by continuing controversy over the pope's decision in 2015 to give a diocese to a bishop accused of turning a blind eye to the abuse perpetrated by a notorious priest.

The pope's appointment of Bishop Juan Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno sparked several protests -- most notably at the bishop's installation Mass -- due to the bishop's connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

The protests against the pope's appointment of Bishop Barros gained steam when a video of Pope Francis defending the appointment was published in September 2015 by the Chilean news channel, Ahora Noticias. Filmed during a general audience a few months earlier, the video showed the pope telling a group of Chilean pilgrims that Catholics protesting the appointment were "judging a bishop without any proof."

"Think with your head; don't let yourself be led by all the lefties who are the ones that started all of this," the pope said. "Yes, Osorno is suffering but for being foolish because it doesn't open its heart to what God says and allows itself to be led by all this silliness that all those people say."

Survivors of abuse and their supporters planned a conference and protests around the pope's arrival.

But Pope Francis made his way to La Moneda, the presidential palace, and was welcomed by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. Thousands were gathered in the square outside the palace, chanting "Francisco, amigo, Chile esta contigo" ("Francis, friend, Chile is with you").

Despite the jovial atmosphere at outside La Moneda, there were serious signs of protest in Santiago.

Chilean media reported vandalism at Divine Providence Parish, not far from O'Higgins Park, where the pope was to celebrate Mass later in the morning. Vandals spray painted the words "complice" ("accomplice") and "papa arde" ("burn, pope") on the facade of the church below a banner welcoming Pope Francis.

Three days earlier, several Chilean churches were firebombed, and police found other, unexploded devices at two other churches in Santiago. Some of the pamphlets included the phrase, "The next bombs will be in your cassock" and spoke of the cause of the Mapuche indigenous group.

"How are you? Where you able to rest?" Bachelet asked the pope when he arrived at the palace. "Perfectly," he responded. The two leaders stood as the national anthems of Chile and Vatican City State were played before entering the courtyard of the palace where about 700 members of the country's government authorities and of the diplomatic corps welcomed the pope with a standing ovation.

In his speech to the country's political leaders, Pope Francis emphasized the need for officials to listen to the people and to value their experiences, cultures, sufferings and hopes.

Included in the pope's list were "children who look out on the world with eyes full of amazement and innocence and expect from us concrete answers for a dignified future."

At that point he told the officials, "I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

The pope's acknowledgment of the crimes of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy was met with a loud applause from the government authorities present.

Looking at the country's social and political life, Pope Francis congratulated the nation for its steady growth in democracy since 1990 when the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet ended.

The recent presidential elections in November, he said, "were a demonstration of the solidity and civic maturity that you have achieved."

"That was a particularly important moment, for it shaped your destiny as a people founded on freedom and law, one that has faced moments of turmoil, at times painful, yet succeeded in surmounting them. In this way, you have been able to consolidate and confirm the dream of your founding fathers," the pope said.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is scheduled to hand the office over to President-elect Sebastian Pinera in March.

Chile's future, Pope Francis said, depends on the ability of its people and leaders to listen to those in need and "replace narrow ideologies with a healthy concern for the common good."

The unemployed, native peoples, migrants, the elderly, young people and children all deserve to be listened to while also giving "preferential attention to our common home."

The wisdom of the country's indigenous population, he added, can help Chilean society "transcend a merely consumerist view of life and to adopt a sage attitude to the future."

"The wisdom of the native peoples can contribute greatly to this," Pope Francis said. "From them we can learn that a people that turns its back on the land, and everything and everyone on it, will never experience real development."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at