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January 9, 1998     The Message
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January 9, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana JaunU What did you do over the holidays By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor It must happen at every school and every work- place. It happens, too, among extended families and within each circle of friends. It's the post-holiday conversation, the answer to the question, "What did you do at Christmas?" Depending on the circumstances of your loca- tion, the question may moreffequently refer to "the holidays." One person told me he had visited his father and mother, and wished that he had more time to spend with them. I know the feeling. Another spoke of the joy of having her family together, acknowledging already, though, the sorrow that would come at separation, when a daughter returned to college. In our family, a son has returned to his life in graduate school. It's over, this most recent season of Christmas. We are between the feasting and the fast, it seems. Completed is a time of Christmas celebrations, New Year's parties and special events, family visits, vacations, movies, extraordinary sports events. Soon enough will come the time of Lent and its disciplines. So what did you do at Christmas? Now is the time to reflect. Not everyone, of course, has had a series of successful celebrations. Cold and rainy weather was the reality for some who sought sun- shine in the south. The flu, or a flu-like illness, affect- ed others, or someone in their family The answers to the Christmas time question are not always full of Christmas joy. Sadness and pain are never far away. Take the time today to evaluate how you spent "the holidays." If you ask another the Christmas time question, pay careful attention to the answer. Perhaps a more appropriate question to ask is, "What gifts did you receive at Christmas-time?" And a more personal question, "What gifts did you give?" Gifts may be things, or services, or the presence of one you love. Gifts may be opportunities, times of grace, or times of difficulty overcome. If you have children in your home, talk with them about the gifts of Christmas, those given and those received. It seems to me, as I reflect on the season, that the gifts of greatest joy for me were the ones I gave the ones which required the in selection or preparation, to be receiver. Memlers of the Christian Family always called, in the end, to take some method is simple, described in three Judge, Act. This form of active family s t adherents to observe their judge  see in the light of Christ's teachin make their world a better place. Observing the gifts given and the beginning of this process. Judging is harder. Were the gifts Were they given for the good of the they given in haste, or with great care? Acting is harder yet. What gift could t my neighbor? What can I do to make the of all, Jesus our Lord, present to more After all, it seems to me, the ql stop at the point of asking, "What did Christmas?" The question must "What did you do at Christmas, i: i Comments about this column or the Christian Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Pre- nillennial flop: Rome abandons plan for traffic By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican and Rome have begun their two-year countdown to the year 2000, but the new year's mood was dampened by a big- time flop. After years of planning, promis- es, controversy and legal chal- lenges, Rome officially aban- doned its plan to build a major traffic underpass in front of the Vatican. The tunnel was consid- ered the key to making the area in front of St. Peter's a pedestrian walkway for the millions of pil- grims expected in the jubilee year. In the end, Italian art and archeology authorities sided with protesters who had warned that digging a 20-foot-wide, 30- foot-tall underground passage- way would  compromise the 1,900-year-old Castel Sant'An- gelo, which stands above the projected tunnel. ' AddreSs all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50  as per n-.tte at Itle post office in [-'ml,  47701. acali0n nan - Ir,m.: Retm PO0 lorms 3579 to O"ice of The turreted castle, built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and converted into a fortress by medieval popes, has its own fans in Rome. No one wanted it to fall down. Rome Mayor Francesco Rutel- li, embarrassed by the cancella- tion of the city's biggest public works project for the jubilee, insisted that there was still a safe way to build the tunnel, but not before the year 2000. His night- mare scenario  and that of Vat- ican officials  was that the Holy Year would arrive and find the major traffic arteries around the Vatican still dug up. "The candle has been blown out," he said with just a touch of melodrama, announcing the pre- mature end of the traffic tunnel. There was no lack of ideas about what to do with the $100 million earmarked for the project. Build some electric bus and tram lines, urban planners suggested. But some wondered whether scrapping the tunnel would affect another jubilee project that has already begun: construction of a huge underground parking lot on the Janiculum hill next to the Vatican. For months, trucks have been hauling material from the site, which planners foresaw as the perfect place to park thou- sands of giant tour buses expect- ed in the holy year. Without the tunnel, however, Vatican newspaper pays tribute to 66 slain missionaries By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS)- The Vatican newspaper paid tribute to 66 missionaries slain in 1997, saying their sacrifice" was a.prophetic witness for our age. :"As the second millennium approaches, the church has become increasingly a church of martyrs. This is a fact that shakes consciences," said the newspa- peg L'Osservatore Romano, in its Dec. 31 edition. In a full-page feature, the paper ran brief biographies of those killed, including U.S. Jesuit Father Thomas Gafney, who was murdered Dec. 14 in Nepal. The list also included a group of 40 young Burundi seminarians slain in April by Hutu guerrillas, as well as eight priests and three nuns from Rwanda killed in ethnic vio- lence in February in Zaire. One bishop was killed in 1997, Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, apostolic vicar of Jolo in the Philippines. Known as an untir- ing promoter of peace on his native island of Mindanao, he was shot to death in February. Thousands of Christians and Muslims attended his funeral. Other missionaries were killed in Colombia, Peru, India, Paraguay, Chad, Kenya and Nigeria. The Vatican newspaper said the deaths of priests, nuns and seminarians throughout the world can act as a powerful evangelizing force. "On the threshold of the third millennium, the martyrs and their sacrifice have brought Christ's victory over sin and death into the world," it said. "The heritage left by these martyrs will act like a seed in the many people working for the Gospel in various regions of the world," it said. there may be no way to reach the new lot. Experts are now studing the problem. In recent weeks, money-mind- ed Romans have formed an orga- nization aimed at making sure the $2 billion in jubilee funds are well-spent. Their newsletter, the Lay Observer, questioned, for example, whether $25 million needs to be spent for English lessons for Rome's bus drivers and traffic police. They have also noted that, true to Rome's go-slow form, few of the projects approved two years ago have gotten off the drawing board. Of more than 400 public works approved for the jubilee  including tran- sit, renovation, clean-up and lodging projects  construction has begun on only six. Vatican officials have been care- ful not to publicly criticize Rome's performance, in part because it is the city, not the Vatican, which is putting up the big bucks for the millennium celebration, The Vatican has plans of its own, however. This fall, Pope John Paul II named one of the Roman Curia's most active offi- cials, Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, to head the Central Com- mittee for the Year 2000. Arch- bishop Sepe likes mega-events and he knows how to run them; in recent years, he has organized major gatherings in Rome, including celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the pope's ordination. These encounters had media appeal, with massive outdoor assemblies, singing and danc- Bishop's sch00 Vacation, Jan. 9 through Jan. 20. ing, and lots of menials. That st mark The ing the Holy Year, with the opening ( Door on and ends a year about i00 from papal Masses in St. Most of these will pope, thus opportunity for attend a About six of in the expected to draW' 300,000 people Peter's Square or in the Rome are celebra Day and World Rome police are ing plans influx of touristS, drafted a Safety Project. problem, they say, be a boom in petty pickpocketing; plan to station police persotel gious sites Just how many actually show the year 2000 is guess. The high million, but many sider that a December, the) visitors, or about double a city that, seem