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

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

The Baptism of the Lord

Reading 1 Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Or:

Is 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Or:

Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
"In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him."

Or:

1 Jn 5:1-9

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, "Glory!"
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Or:

Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Alleluia Cf. Jn 1:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John saw Jesus approaching him, and said:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
- - -
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.

Churches no longer exempt from FEMA disaster aid

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is revising its policies to no longer exclude houses of worship from applying for federal aid to recover from damages caused by natural disasters.

The policy change was outlined in the agency's revised 217-page manual: "Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide" issued Jan. 2.

This change is not just for damage caused in future disasters but also affects claims made by churches last year from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma because it can be applied retroactively to claims made "on or after Aug. 23, 2017."

An introduction to the new FEMA manual credits the change in policy to a Supreme Court decision last June, which ruled that Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri should not have been denied a public benefit just because it is a church. The court's 7-2 decision specifically referred to the church-run preschool and said it should not be excluded from a state grant program to refurbish its playground surface just because it is a religious entity.

"In light of the Trinity Lutheran decision, FEMA has considered its guidance on private nonprofit facility eligibility," the agency's new document says, pointing out that houses of worship would not be excluded from eligibility for FEMA aid on the basis of the religious character or primarily religious use of the facility.

Daniel Blomberg, an attorney for the Becket Fund, representing Texas churches and Florida synagogues that have sued FEMA over not getting federal disaster aid, welcomed the policy change.

"Better late than never," he said in a statement. "By finally following the Constitution, FEMA is getting rid of second-class status for churches, which in the words of the Supreme Court was 'odious' to the First Amendment. We will watch carefully to make sure that FEMA's new policy implemented to provide equal treatment for churches and synagogues alongside other charities."

Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, was similarly pleased with the FEMA decision.

"The destruction due to the flooding and hurricanes is of such a magnitude that the government must help in the response," he said in a statement.

The Knights of Columbus have given $1.4 million to repair or help rebuild churches that were destroyed or badly damaged in hurricanes last year in Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization also raised $3.8 million for disaster relief in these areas.

Anderson said church repair has been a key component of Knights' relief efforts, stressing that "help from both the government and the nonprofit sector in the restoring of churches and other spaces dedicated to religious activities will send an important signal that these communities are coming back, that the spirit of the people is alive and well." It also helps these houses of worship with the many charitable and social services they provide, he added.

The battle over getting federal funds to restore storm-damaged church property has been in a legal tangle since last year when three Texas churches severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey were denied federal aid. The churches filed a lawsuit against FEMA over its policy accusing the agency of religious discrimination. Two Florida synagogues damaged in Hurricane Irma similarly filed lawsuits.

The Texas churches appealed the agency's decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied them emergency relief but agreed to hear the case in February. Another request for an emergency injunction for these churches has been pending at the Supreme Court.

The three churches are the Rockport First Assembly of God in Rockport, which lost its roof and steeple and had other structural damage, the Harvest Family Church in Cypress, and Hi-Way Tabernacle in Cleveland, which were both flooded.

President Donald Trump has said on Twitter that places of worship damaged in hurricanes should be able to receive federal aid from FEMA.

This past fall, the issue of FEMA disaster aid going to faith-based groups has been making its way through Congress. In late November, a committee approved the Disaster Recovery Reform Act which would open the doors for church groups to seek FEMA aid, but the bill was awaiting deliberation from the House floor.

Chairmen of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Religious Liberty and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs supported the measure in letters sent to members of the House and Senate.

The letters, signed by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the religious liberty committee, and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, chairman of the ecumenical committee, said the bill regarding FEMA aid and houses of worship "is not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment that conforms to constitutional protections."

"It should be noted that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, houses of worship often play an irreplaceable role in the recovery of a community," they wrote. "Discrimination that treats houses of worship as ineligible for federal assistance in the wake of a natural disaster, beyond being a legal violation, hurts the very communities most affected by the indiscriminate force of nature."

- - -

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

- - -

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope visits sick children on eve of Epiphany

Pope visits sick children on eve of Epiphany

IMAGE: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano

By

FIUMICINO, Italy (CNS) -- On the eve of Epiphany, when most Italian children wake up to find gifts and candy, Pope Francis visited a pediatric hospital outside Rome.

The pope arrived at the Palidoro Bambino Gesu Hospital at about 3 p.m. Jan. 5 and visited the various wards where about 120 children are receiving treatment, according to the Vatican press office.

The pope greeted the children and "exchanged some words of comfort with the parents who are caring for their children in their tiring and painful trials," the statement said.

Visiting the hospital, Pope Francis was "continuing the experience of the Mercy Fridays," visits he made to hospitals, orphanages and other care facilities during the 2015-16 Year of Mercy.

- - -

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Congo's Catholic leaders condemn attacks on protesters, churches

IMAGE: REUTERS

By

KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) -- Congolese church leaders, including the nation's cardinal, condemned security forces' attacks on Catholic protesters that left at least five dead and 120 people detained.

The Vatican Embassy in Kinshasa backed local church officials, saying that "the promotion of social justice and the defense of political and civil rights of citizens are an integral part of the social doctrine of the church."

The Jan. 2 statement said the nuncio was keeping the Vatican Secretariat of State informed, but people should not look for approval or condemnation "because it is standard in the church to respect the competence of the diocesan bishops."

The nunciature also updated the number of dead and churches involved.

The Dec. 31 protest against rule by President Joseph Kabila was organized by the Kinshasa archdiocesan lay coordination committee. At least six priests and a seminarian were among those detained.

"We condemn with utmost vigor this unjustified violence," the Congolese bishops' conference said in a statement Jan. 2.

"We similarly denounce this attack on freedom of worship, which is guaranteed in every democratic state, as well as the profanation of churches and physical aggression against the faithful and their priests."

The statement said the bishops were "profoundly shocked by such ignoble acts," and would demand a "serious and objective inquiry" into who was responsible.

Police also used tear gas and batons against Massgoers in some of the capital's parishes and violently broke up attempted marches in which protesters demanded fresh elections in the country. The nunciature said 134 churches were surrounded by police, and at least two parishes were not permitted to celebrate Mass Dec. 31. In five parishes, Mass was interrupted by security forces.

In a statement, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa called the response "nothing short of barbaric." He said people at Mass, armed only with Bibles and rosaries, were attacked with tear gas.

"How can we trust leaders incapable of protecting the population, of guaranteeing peace, justice and love of people?" the cardinal asked a news conference. "How can we trust leaders who trample on religious freedom of the people, religious freedom which is the foundation of all freedom?"

A U.N. spokeswoman initially said seven deaths had been recorded in Kinshasa, and another at Kananga. Congolese authorities denied that the deaths were linked to the protests, but the nunciature documented the parishes where the five deaths occurred.

The violence was condemned by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who urged Kabila's government to show restraint and "respect the rights of Congolese people to free expression."

The Catholic Church makes up around half the 67.5 million inhabitants of Congo, and the bishops have pressed Kabila to step down since his second and final term expired in December 2016.

Later, a church-brokered accord allowed the president to stay in office, alongside an opposition head of government, pending elections by the end of 2017. However, in November, Congo's Electoral Commission said the ballot would be postponed until Dec. 23, 2018.

In a November statement, the bishops' conference said church observers had recorded 56 deaths and 355 arrests in half a year of opposition protests. They urged Kabila to release political detainees and stick to the Dec. 31, 2016, accord.

The rector of Kinshasa's St. Alphonse Parish, Msgr. Hugues Ndongisila, told Radio France Internationale that police had beaten and robbed Catholics when they sought refuge in his church, also shooting out its stained-glass windows. He said the bodies of two dead protesters had later been collected by the Red Cross.

- - -

Coverage of international religious freedom issues by Catholic News Service is supported in part by Aid to the Church in Need -- USA (www.acnusa.org).

- - -

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope to teachers: Help kids live with care for all of creation

Vatican issues updated schedule for pope's trip to Chile, Peru

A Message from the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops During National Migration Week, January 7-13

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a National Migration Week message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees.

Cardinal DiNardo's statement as follows:

"On Sunday, the Catholic Church across the United States will celebrate the beginning of National Migration Week. For nearly 50 years, this week has been a time of prayer and reflection on our history as a migrant Church and nation. In these five decades, the face of the immigrant may have changed – European, Asian, South American, and elsewhere -- but their faces reveal a common desire to secure the great blessings of American opportunity.

Pope Francis, in his statement on the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2018, advises us that if we view the situation of migrants and refugees through the wisdom of our faith 'we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.'

This week, I invite everyone to reflect on the Holy Father's words as well as on your own family's immigration story. Please also join me in prayer for all families, as together, we 'Share the Journey' toward a better life."

---
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, National Migration Week, immigrants, refugees, Pope Francis, World Day of Peace, immigration, Share the Journey

###

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

National Migration Week 2018 to be Celebrated January 7-13th

WASHINGTON—National Migration Week 2018 will take place January 7-13th. This year's theme is "Many Journeys, One Family." The theme coincides with the Caritas Internationalis migration campaign entitled "Share the Journey". National Migration Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the contributions of migrants, including refugees, and victims of human trafficking in our communities.

With over 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes globally, the world is increasingly affected by migration. National Migration Week offers a time to educate Catholic communities about migration and to come together to encounter immigrants and refugees in parishes, dioceses, and communities.

"National Migration Week allows for reflection upon the biblical teaching concerning welcoming the newcomer and allows us to share the journey with our brothers and sisters who have been forced from their homes." said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration.

As part of the 2018 National Migration Week celebration, USCCB/MRS will be participating in an event at The Catholic University of America with the Institute for Human Ecology entitled "On the Margins: At the Intersection of Catholic Thought and Migration" on January 11th. To register for the event in person, visit www.marginsevent.org, to view livestream of the event visit  https://livestream.com/CatholicUniversity/events/8001597.

The US bishops began the observance of National Migration Week nearly 50 years ago to give Catholics an opportunity to honor and learn about the diverse communities of the Church, as well as the work that the Church undertakes to serve immigrants and refugees. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of migrants and refugees.

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at www.justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/national-migration-week.

---
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, National Migration Week. #ShareJourney

###

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Postulator: Religious killed in Algeria will be recognized as martyrs