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February 16, 1996     The Message
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February 16, 1996

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'16,1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 op's Forum-- Series: Of sacraments and sacramentals A childhood memory prompted begin this series. It is that of of the Purification of Our on February 2. Am- of the Mo- the birth of a Impress me, the of the blessing of for the use in the the following year did. lid not understand the first not. .purpose was clear to me. • remember the special this special me- during my where there was an even )." A formal procession with candles ceremony. are sacramentals. They enhance the the sacraments of our faith. them apart for a special purpose, blessing in a formal and ceremonial ttely. Even though the orig- may be assigned to the need for light, value, their importance as sacramen- candles. Birthday can- lg of all radiates from the e. There is a very formal blessing on ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER Holy Saturday night. The single candle is lighted from the newly blessed fire. This single candle rep- resents Christ, the light of the world. All fear of darkness and even darkness itself is dispelled by it. This Christ light is a symbol of resurrection. Christ is arisen. His light replaces the darkness of death. The Easter Candle is sym- bolic of our hope of resurrection. The Easter Candle is used at bap- tisms, confirmations and funerals and is burned at all liturgies during the Easter season• In my childhood home, blessed candles were important sacramentals to our farm family. Our parents made certain that we had blessed candles for the "sick call set" so that when there was an emergency in the home, the presence of this sacramental was consoling for those of us concerned about the sick member of the family. The burning blessed candle was a welcome sign to the priest who came to bring the sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion• What consolations the blessed candle signaled! The blessed candle was always in readiness in our home. Summer storms occasioned the lighting of the candle most often. It was the practice to light the blessed candle during a storm. Horrific stories about tornadoes could be terrifying, but the experi- ence of violent thunderstorms gave us kids and our parents the greatest fright. I cannot enumerate all the times we children gathered around the kitchen table with our Mother during a summer storm to ask God's assistance while Dad was away at work. The lighted, blessed candle was a reminder of God's presence in our midst much like Jesus' pres- ence was to the apostles in the boat during the storm. The burning blessed candle was, to say the least, calming. (It was many, many years later that we children learned that our "fearless" mother was petrified of storms. Her visible strength and courage carried us beyond the burning candle and the storm itself. We attribute her ability to reflect her courage, not her fear, to the burning of the blessed candle.) Are sacramentals suggestive of magic? I think not. For those whose faith is either conditional or not rooted in knowledge of God's infinite nature, sacramentals can take on the character of magic. Sacramentals are not "talismans" or "lucky charms." You and I are human. We find help in sensible, natural signs. They remind us of the deeper mean- ing of our supernatural faith. Sacramentals are such natural signs. They strengthen our acknowl- edgment of God's constant presence in our very being and reassure us of his infinite love. More next time. Pope's Lenten Message: 'Give them something to eat' om Lenten and Sisters! Lord is call- along the year all invited to re- s and to our bap- ton and to bear n. Lent is a lg, creative inspires new impe- of our corn- the Gospel• of love which to sisters and t. Jesus asks and to radi- new com- represents summation of rusted by Sinai. people ty or are OUtcasts this sea- invited to the suffer- ing written on their faces, faces which challenge us to acknowl- edge the various aspects of poverty that continue in our time. The Gospel makes it clear that the Redeemer is especially compassionate to those in diffi- culty. He speaks to them of the Kingdom of God and heals the body and spirit of those who are in need of care. He then says to his disciples, "Give them something to eat." How- ever the disciples realize that they only have five loaves of bread and two fish. Like the disciples in Bethsaida, we today are aware that the means at our disposal are cer- tainly insufficient to meet the needs of the nearly eight hun- dred million people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and who still struggle, on the threshold of the Year 2000, for survival. What can we do? Do we leave things as they are, and resign ourselves to being help- less? This is the question that, at the beginning of Lent, I would like to pose to each member of the faithful and to Creation ten, eyed from ago, I corn- education Sed in the diocesan re- told L me that of what seminary. that corn- not my about the souls rernem. Jesus WOmen for your- After examining a sex educa- tion program being used in a Pennsylvanian Catholic school by a mother of six children, she labeled it "The Psychic Rape of the Young." God only knows the destruction that has come to our Catholic school, families, semi- naries and convents from some of these sex education programs. Now we must begin to relearn what we relearned and we will be back on course to what the church has taught from it's be- ginning. Let us be thankful for the teaching of infallibility because the salvation of souls is what the Catholic Church is all about. St. Maria Goretti, pray for us. Richard W. Vieck VilcenDes the whole Church• The crowds of starving people -- children, women, the elderly, immi- grants refugees, the unem- ployed -- raise to us their cry of suffering. They implore us, hoping to be heard. How can we not open our ears and our hearts and start to make avail- able those five loaves and two fish which God has put into our hands? If each one of us contributes something, we can all do something for them. Of course this will require sacri- fices, which call for a deep inner conversion. Certainly it will involve changing our exag- gerated consumerist behavior, combating hedonism, resisting attitudes of indifference and the tendency to disregard our personal responsibilities. Hunger is a great tragedy af- flicting humanity. • . . The earth has the re- sources necessary to feed all humanity• We need to learn to use them intelligently, respect- ing the environment and the rhythms of nature, guarantee- ing fairness and justice in busi- ness dealings and ensuring a distribution of wealth which takes into account the duty of solidarity. • . . Even as we Witness the destruction of great quantities of products necessary for human life, we are saddened to see the disturbing spectacle of long lines of people waiting their turn at soup-kitchens... (and other people) sorting through refuse bins once the local markets have closed. When we consider scenes such as these, symptomatic as they are of profound contradic- tions, how can our hearts fail to rebel against them? How can we not feel spontaneously moved to Christian charity? • . . I entrust to you these Lenten reflections, so that you can ponder them as individuals and as a community under the guidance of your pastors. I urge you to take significant practical steps which are able to multiply the few loaves and fish at our disposal. This will provide effective help in ad- dressing the various forms of hunger and will be an authen- tic way of living this providen- tial period of Lent, a season of conversion and reconciliation. As you carry out these de- manding resolutions, I gladly impart to each of you my Apos- tolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and consolation. May the Lord grant us the grace to set out generously, in prayer and penance, on the path to- wards the celebration of Easter. Beijing: What was it like? Following are excerpts from a "Report On The Fourth World Conference On Women, Beijing, China," by Franciscan Sister Sue Bradshaw. Portions of her report were published in the Message, Feb. 9. Was the conference "athe- istic" (as reported on some radio talk shows)? At the NGO meetings there were many workshops on women and religion, and they were very well attended. One could have attended only work- shops on religion and have been kept fully occupied during the entire ten days. One such workshop was on "Saints Fran- cis and Clare: Their Vision of Equality, Development and Peace". At both the NGO and governmental meetings there were areas designated as "reli- gious,"' where rooms were set aside for the major world reli- gions. Mass was available daily at both gatherings for anyone who wanted to attend. I was part of the caucus of more than 100 women from 70 religious congregations from all the continents and many coun- tries.-We met three times to share our experiences of min- istry with women, and our plans to address some of the problems women face. We pre- pared a press release, and a statement given to all the U.N. delegations stating our solidar- ity with all women participants and insisting that the U.N. con- ference ratify and implement a platform of action "which eifec- tively addresses the militarization, rac strucam acliusmt pro- grams, narrow fundamentalist in- terpretations and patriarchal structures which contribute to the feminization of poverty and do violence to women and girls everywhere . At a panel entitled "From Backlash to New Vision , Betty Friedan, one of the founders of the women's movement in the U.S., invited women theologians present and activists to help ar- ticulate a new vision for a broader women's movement, along with journalists and media to communicate the new vision• She summed up her thoughts by calling for feminism to move to a new paradigm of community which includes a spiritual dimension. While many feminists already consid- ered spirituality an integral part of any liberation move- ment, it was a step forward to hear Betty Friedan say the same thing. There were serious concerns expressed about the ways that religions considered by some as fundamentalist are detrimen- tal to the welfare of women. Because some religious groups objected to the use of the word fundamentalist , the dele- gates struggled to find a com- promise word, and emerged in the final text of the Platform for Action with the statement, "extremist expressions of reli- gion can be detrimental to women ." .................