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August 9, 1996     The Message
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August 9, 1996
 

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August 9, 1996 _ The Message --for Catholics of Southwestm:n Indiana I IIIII III I II -- Bishop's Forum -- Recently I had occasion to travel across the international boundary between the United States and Canada. First I had the new experience of receiving from the federal government of Canada clearance to enter their country by mail. Upon our return to the United states we were expected to report to an official at the Customs and Immigration Office (a trailer) in Ely, Minnesota. Even though our group was cleared to enter Canada, we were entering the Quetico Provincial Park of Ontario. We had to be pro- cessed by the Provincial Ranger in Lac la Croix, Ontario and pay the appropriate fees. The personal contacts with the Provincial Welcome!? By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER The first were the Provincial Rangers of Ontario, a man and his wife. I came to learn that they are known for their welcoming spirit. Joe and Vera Meany, rangers for some 26 years. They had welcomed folks to the Quetico for all those years and they were genuine in their welcome. They processed our entry with care and gentleness. As the leader of our group, I felt wel- comed. The second was the United States customs agent to whom we were required to report upon return from Canada. For whatever reason, there was no welcoming spirit in his demeanor. In fact, his countenance and manner generated an empty feeling in my stomach as if I were about "to Ranger and the U.S. Customs Officer produced two distinct and memorable experiences. Both involved public servants, in Canada and the United States re- spectively. These folks are public servants. Their daily tasks are repetitive, tasks that could, in my view, become very boring and offer little satisfaction. be caught" doing something illegal. He must get awfully tired of repeating his task over and over. My intent here is to report a personal experi- ence, not to pass judgment on those charged with important responsibilities. My experiences on these occasions are, however, an opportunity for me to be renewed in my efforts to be hospitable to all I meet -- as was Jesus. He welcomed all: the woman at the well, the centurion, the blind man, the leper and all who would follow Him. We in oui" country have been privileged to have many thousands of citizens of other lands visit us during the Olympic Games. Although most of us did not have the opportunity to personally welcome our guests, their visit gives each of us a chance to ex- amine our own personal attitude and spirit of hos- pitality toward the "foreigner." For my purposes I will define a foreigner as anyone I do not know, be they from another land or from down the street. Especially troublesome for us Catholics is the consistent report from one study after another that the primary reason for not joining our community of believers or for leaving the Church is lack of gen- uine hospitality. Over and over again we are re- minded, but it seems we =don't catch.on." Teenagers and young people do not feel welcome. Special at- tention to particular needs of those with handicap- ping conditions is many times lacking. Those who speak a different language feel shunned. Have we forgotten our heritage? More next week. 5 Reflecting on the Feast of the Assumption By FATHER FRANCIS T. GIGNAC, S.J. The Catholic University of America The long-standing belief in Assumption of Mary was first solemnly defined as a moon, and stars (symbols taken pictures angelic announce- stands in contrast to the disbe- Jerusalem along with the apos- from GeneSis 37). The second reading is a short passage from Paul's first letter to the Corinthian community (I Cor. 15:20-26), in which he shows the implications of ments of the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus, and then he describes the birth, circumci- sion, and presentation of both John and Jesus. The purpose of these stories is to introduce and lief of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. Mary's faith is pre- sented as a model for the faith of all Christians. Mary is praised here as the mother of the Lord, but her re- ties and others after the resur- rection, devoting themselves in one accord to prayer. Thus Mary's role as believer is devel- oped historically and so pro- rides us a pattern for Christian to  ' dogma b Poe Plus XII on this Christ's resurrection for all be- identify John and Jesus as sponse is one of a servant, ex- faith. She is portrayed by this ithe | ght lievers. He describes Christ as agents of God's salvation his-pressed in the beautiful Mag-author as the mother of all be- the "firstfruits" of those who tory. Both come from God; but nificat canticle. This canticle lievers in the same way that, have fallen asleep. Firstfruits is through this parallelism, the may have been an early Chris- for Paul, Abraham was the fa- a cultic term referring to the author stresses the preemi- tian hymn or the author may ther of all believers, and so as !ii I firstsheavesofgrainofferedin nenceofJesusoverJohn:he havecomposeditofphrases imageandtypeofthechurch. the temple in thanksgiving as a presents John as prophet of the from the Greek Old Testament. As  celebrat :t/tie feaHtbf ' consecration of the entire har- Most High, Jesus as Son of the In these beautiful stories of Mary's assumption with joy and vest. So Christ's resurrection is Most High. the annunciation, birth, and hope, we realize that if we imi- - an inauguration of our own res- This gospel selection is the early years of Jesus, Mary his tate her faith, we too will one urrection as we share in his ulti- complementary episode that mother is presented as a model day share the glory she has re- cicmaS |b.ook very difficult to under- mate victory over sin and death, links the two annunciation believer. She is the only adult ceived through her son. ,licsrl ] rand because of its intricate The gospel reading comes scenes by bringing together the mentioned in these infancy nar- ccotaa" |nd sometimes bizarre symbol- from the Lucan infancy narra- mothers of John and Jesus. ratives who reappears later in Jesuit Father Francis T. Gignac - |:isra. Here it pictures the opposi- tives (Luke 1:39-56). The au- With Elizabeth's proclamation, any gospel. And she is also is a professor and chairperson of cele" ]tion between God's people and thor structures these narratives "Blessed are you who have be- mentioned at the beginning of the Department of Biblical Studies lanaon |SVil with stylized images of a in parallel scenes, like diptychs lieved," the author portrays the Acts of the Apostles as at The Catholic University of Amer- ou'Ve |! Oman adorned with the sun, on a medieval altar. First, he Mary as a believer whose faith being in the upper room in ica in Washington, D.C. [ ?uest. column: Twiptweed discusses smoke and sex leigh" |i ou know, I have a fallen safe-sex is rarely challenged, If there can be safe-sex, then same time it is intolerant to about the condom dispensers lo- uVJ |gel who pesters me from time even though the number of why can't there be safe-smokes? speak of abstinence regarding cated throughout our nation? ,, he |:time. His name is Twiptweed. STDs and pregnancy rates in- Wasn t the cigarette filter sup- premarital or promiscuous sex. Hmmm? ,|e other day Twip, as I affec- crease among those who use posed tq prevent disease? And And if cigarettes can be ad- Where are the watchdogs refer to him, said to "Do kids still smoke after I stammered for a moment then we had a discussion the issues of smok- sexuality. For the sake I will summarize our Commentary MCMULIN do not endorse smok- or encourage others to isn't it interesting that anti-smoking and anti-to- forces are preaching ab- from smoking; yet, of those same people are set. against suggest- or advocating abstinence sexual activity? Isn't can- as dangerous as a sexually disease? In fact, we that STDs are far more of cancer., uential sex, albeit the aid of the pill or a con- merely encourages sexu- ate behavior. And yet 'th that contraceptives individuals to engage in contraceptives. Then there is the whole issue of abortion. Abortion is essential as a form of back-up birth-control in a culture which thrives on non- consequential sex. Meanwhile, while the caring compassionate crowds wag their fingers at the smokers, and preach abstinence from tobacco products, why then are the so- cial conservatives vilified and ostracized for promoting absti- nence from sexual activity? Doesn't the argument, =Well, the kids can't control them- selves, and they're going to have sex anyway, so let them have safe-sex" betray the anti-smok- ing crusade? Couldn2 1 say the same about cigarette smoking, =Well the kids are going to smoke anyway, so let's give them free smokes"?. And while I'm on this point, whatever be- came of the "freedom of choice'?. If it's okay for a girl to abort her child without parental consent, then why are we so worried about a few puffs off the old Camel? (Not to mention other inhalants ofchoice.) ....... isn't a filter on the end of a cigarette sort of like a condom? Perhaps if we put a latex filter on the ends of cigarettes, then the kids could smoke safely. Now, what I want to know is why the anti-smoking forces can say that teenagers CAN control their urges to smoke and can actually learn to re- frain from smoking altogether and still remain psychologically stable, yet somehow these same kids CANNOT control them- selves in regard to their sex drive? Is it true that we need to give people condoms because abstinence is unrealistic and re. pressive? Yet the anti-smoking legion say that we can, should, and even, MUST stop these kids from smoking. Tobacco ab- stinence. I don't get it. With the onslaught of sexu- ally transmitted diseases, in- cluding AIDS, shouldn't we apply the same concept of absti- nence towards sexual behavior as the anti-smoking lobby has in regards towards smoking? Why is it respectable to be "ffghififsmbking, WHile at'the dictive, then should we not wonder if condoms can become addictive? Who is policing or regulating the condom distribu. tors and agencies which provide access to casual sex? If we are truly concerned for our young people's health, then shouldn't we be  these questions? Just in the past few months in our community we have seen certain people outraged because of billboards with advertise- ments for cigarettes, and others were in an uproar about some kids chasing air a bunny rab- bit. Yet amidst the furor we heard of a young man who kicked a pregnant teenage girl in the abdomen and the baby died. Where were the concerned citizens and women's groups on that crime? Unfortunately in Indiana an unborn child has no rights regardless, even if the mother wants the child. As tong as the child is killed while in- side the womb, neither ctim has legal recourse. And if cigarette vending ma- chlfxes 'are'so evil, then' What when it comes to all the under- age sexual escapades that may be ,played out with the use of a condom? What about the rapists who use condoms? And what of the young man who gets a couple of condoms from the dispenser in the rroom of a local convenient store? Who is handing out the sensitivity training packets for him to read before he scores oh his girl- friend? Ever heard of date rape? And where are the feminists on this one? Shouldn't they be en- couraging the young women of our nation not to allow them- selves to be used? In conclusion, my fallen angel acquaintance, Twiptweed, in- formed me that thanks to the anti-tobacco lobby, our sexed*up teens are pretty much smoke- free. Comforting to know, isn't it? John W. Mc,/lullt, n teaches at Mater Dei High School, Evansville, and is the author of a selfpublished book about his conversations with Twiptweed, entitled )efector from Hetl.' "