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CELEBRATING THE SEASON - LENT

Length 12 min.
Age Group I - Intermediate
Publisher St. Anthony Messenger Press
Topics Special Seasons
Spirituality


This video explores customs, traditions, prayers and ways we can keep Lent as we walk together on the path to Jerusalem, preparing for the new life of Easter. It invites us to Fast, Do Good Works, and Remember the way Jesus lived his life.

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  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Dennis SadowskiOSWIECIM, Poland (CNS) -- Walking into the Auschwitz concentration camp, Stephanie Dalton felt a chill up and down her spine. She called it the spirit of those who died at the hands of the Nazis more than 70 years ago. "You could tell the people's presence (was) still there," she said after her group from the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, walked through the camp July 25 as part of their World Youth Day pilgrimage. Dalton, 19, a member of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, spoke to Catholic News Service during a break after touring the camp and the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where nearly 1 million people were killed in secret during World War II. Looking at forested areas at Birkenau, Dalton said she could see the people who were held "in the beauty" after arriving by train in crammed boxcars as their fate was being determined by the Nazis. "They didn't know what was going to happen," she said in a solemn tone. The Brooklyn contingent totals about 600. Forty of them filled a bus and joined thousands of others from around the world at the camps a day before the official opening of World Youth Day. At Auschwitz, visitors walked in silence under the famous gate with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free.) Only the footsteps of the pilgrims on the dry, rocky ground could be heard. For some of the Brooklynites, the silence echoed what it may have been like for the Jews, Roma and others identified for extermination as they left the trains and walked to their death. Wadley Fleurime, 18, a native of Haiti and a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, compared the pain of losing friends in his homeland's 2010 earthquake to how families must have felt when they lost loved ones and friends at Auschwitz. "It breaks my heart that something like this could happen, because I know what the heartbreak is like," he said. Patricia, 22, and Gabriella Ruiz, 19, sisters who belong to Mary Queen of Heaven Church, said after leaving Auschwitz they found it difficult to comprehend the killing that occurred onsite. They expect to share what they saw and learned with parishioners at home. "It was crazy that we were walking in the same place that they harmed people," Gabriella Ruiz said. Her sister described her experience as "surreal." The sisters want to research the Holocaust more deeply so that they can support their experience with additional facts and photos. "We can say we saw it with our own eyes," Patricia Ruiz said. Several contingents from France stopped at various locations at the expansive Birkenau site to pray and sing hymns of atonement for the sins of humanity. Dominick Costantino, 24, vocation program coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was walking with a young Polish woman, Monika Hulewicz, discussing the history of the camps. "It's very sad that humans could have done this to other humans," Costantino said. "It's amazing (that) you're walking in the suffering. In the silence you hear the stumbling, the falling, the crying of the people." Hulewicz, 23, said it is imperative for Poles to tell the story of the carnage at the camps. "It is very important for us to show that this is not just Polish heritage, but that this is the heritage of the whole world," she said. "It is a big, big reminder of how we can avoid doing it in the future." At the crumbling bricks of a dynamited Birkenau crematorium, Adrianna Garcia, 26, a member of St. Peter Prince of the Apostles Parish in San Antonio, stopped to discuss with a friend what she was seeing. She said that studying the Holocaust in school was far different than seeing the camps where mass executions were carried out. "You honestly don't get the full picture until walking the grounds," she said. As a fifth-grader in a Catholic school, Garcia had a Jewish teacher who would tell stories about the Holocaust. "Her stories can't compare to seeing this," Garcia told CNS. "She would take us to the San Antonio Jewish museum, but you can't compare it." She said the pilgrims who visit the concentration camps must take home the stories home and encourage others to make the same trip if they can. She said she already had been sharing what she saw on social media. "It's important not to leave it in the storytelling. Stories come and stories go. But if you live it, you can help others understand it," she said. - - - Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski. - - -Copyright © 2016 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.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul JeffreyBy Paul JeffreyDURBAN, South Africa (CNS) -- The face of the AIDS epidemic has changed dramatically in recent years as scientists have created antiretroviral drugs that lower levels of the virus in the bloodstream, allowing those infected with HIV to live relatively normal lives. Yet getting those drugs into the hands of everyone who needs them remains difficult. Worldwide, only 17 million of the 36.7 million people who carry the virus are receiving treatment, U.N. officials told delegates to the International AIDS Conference here. As long as those numbers do not improve, untreated carriers will continue to pass on the virus to others. So a major point of discussion at the conference, which ended July 22, was how to get more drugs to more people. Despite what many dub "AIDS fatigue," Catholics and other religious leaders recommitted themselves to work to expand treatment, especially among children. Vatican officials have already begun pushing a unique project to rapidly expand the availability of antiretroviral drugs for children. The first step was getting drug manufacturers on board. Since not many children in developed countries contract HIV these days, there's no sizable market to recoup research and development and manufacturing costs. With only poor children needing the drugs, there's less of an incentive to manufacture pediatric medicines or the specific diagnostic tools that are also needed. "We have a commitment to make those medicines for children at the right dosage levels, but it's not a very profitable business. But then none of this HIV work is," Anil Soni, vice president for infectious diseases at Mylan, the largest producer of generic antiretroviral medicines, told a gathering of religious activists held in conjunction with the AIDS conference. Soni was one of a handful of pharmaceutical executives invited to Rome for meetings in April and May with high-level Vatican officials and AIDS experts from the United Nations and the United States. The meetings came after years of lobbying by church officials to get governments and drug makers to take action on their own. Frustrated by the lack of progress that produced, the Vatican decided to more directly intervene. It did so by appealing to their sense of morality. "We recognized up front that this wasn't something companies could make a lot of money on, but we also think there's a moral imperative for them to act," said Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, who became the general secretary of the International Catholic Migration Commission in May. Until a successor is named, he also continues as the Vatican's special adviser on HIV and AIDS. Msgr. Vitillo told Catholic News Service that the Vatican did not invite Martin Shkreli, the U.S pharmaceutical boss who increased the price of an HIV-related drug by 5,000 percent. Shkreli has been indicted for fraud in a U.S. federal court. An off-Broadway musical about his greed opened in July. Pope Francis was scheduled to meet with the group April 16, but a last-minute trip to the Greek island of Lesbos took him out of Rome. "He did send a personal message to the group, however. It was strong motivation to these corporate executives to hear the pope state that what they're doing is vitally important, and that they must do it together," Msgr. Vitillo said. Msgr. Vitillo said he found participants open to new ideas and wanting to be involved. "I didn't hear anyone say we can't do this. They did share the challenges they face and a belief that if we could share some kind of united approach" that guaranteed enough of a market, their companies could participate, even if it wouldn't be a highly profitable. The meetings gave enough encouragement to AIDS officials that a new target for reaching children with life-saving drugs was inserted into a document signed at the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS held at the United Nations in June. Not all of the details have been worked out yet, and Msgr. Vitillo took advantage of the presence of all the players in Durban to continue refining their plans. He said the next steps include forming a working group with a smaller number of representative stakeholders, then bringing an action plan back to the larger group. Msgr. Vitillo said they would probably start pilot projects in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Congo. The target numbers the group will pursue are ambitious: getting 1.6 million children under 15 on antiretroviral medications in the next two years. Msgr. Vitillo called that a major step toward eliminating AIDS as a major public health crisis by 2030. Soni said new approaches will be necessary to meet that goal, because what has been tried with children until now simply is not working. He said he was recently in China, where some people crush adult tablets to treat children. "It's the wrong dosage and it's a taste that the children can't take," he said. Soni said researchers are developing new pediatric formulations that can, for example, be sprinkled on food. But these must be brought to market quickly. He said half of children born with HIV will die within 24 months of birth if not treated. Faith-based groups, which in several countries are among the largest providers of health care, must continue to push their corporate partners, Soni said. "From our perspective in industry, we appreciate and really look to faith-based organizations for their leadership in reaching out to communities, identifying patients and supporting them and offering both care and prevention services," he said. "The church has shown tremendous leadership this year in encouraging all partners to reach the children who are living with or affected by HIV to receive treatment and care."- - -Copyright © 2016 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.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With his visit to World Youth Day only a few days away, Pope Francis asked young pilgrims to accompany his visit to Krakow, Poland, with prayers. Leaving for Poland July 27 "to meet up with these young men and women and celebrate with them and for them the Jubilee of Mercy, with the intercession of St. John Paul II, I ask you to accompany me with prayer," the pope said July 24 during his Angelus address. The pope thanked the volunteers, bishops, priests and men and women religious "who are working to welcome these young pilgrims." In a message for youths unable to make it to the event, he said, "A special word to the many youth of their same age who, unable to be present personally, will follow the event through the media: We are all united in prayer!" Prayer was the main theme of the pope's reflection prior to reciting the Angelus with thousands of visitors in St. Peter's Square. Recalling the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord's prayer, the pope said the word 'father' is the secret to Jesus' prayer. That word, the pope said, "is the key that he himself gives us so that we can also enter into this relationship of trusting dialogue with the father who has accompanied and sustained his life." Pope Francis explained that prayer is the primary "work tool in our hands" and that to insist on something with God is not meant to "convince him, but rather to strengthen our faith and our patience, that is, our capacity to fight beside God for the things that are truly important and necessary." "In prayer we are a pair: God and me, fighting together for what is important. Among these, there is one, the great important thing, which Jesus tells us today in the Gospel, but which we hardly ever consider, and it is the Holy Spirit: 'Grant to me the Holy Spirit!'" he said. In asking for the Holy Spirit, he concluded, Christians can live their lives with "wisdom, with love, doing the will of God," like Mary. "The Virgin Mary shows us this with her existence, wholly animated by the Spirit of God. She helps us to pray to the father united to Jesus, so as to live not in a worldly way, but in accordance with the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit," the pope said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 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.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Nancy WiechecBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an effort to help contemplative women religious renew their life and mission in the church and the world, Pope Francis issued a series of new rulings dealing with formation, assets, prayer life, authority and autonomy. The new rulings include a mandate that "initially, all monasteries are to be part of a federation" based on "an affinity of spirit and traditions" with the aim of facilitating formation and meeting needs through sharing assets and exchanging members. Monasteries voting for an exception from joining a federation will need Vatican approval. All institutes of contemplative women religious will need to revise or update their constitutions or rules so as to implement the new norms and have those changes approved by the Holy See. Titled "Vultum Dei Quaerere" (Seeking the face of God), the document focuses on the life of contemplative women religious. Dated June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, it was released by the Vatican July 22, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. The 38-page document contains 14 new articles ruling on various aspects of life within monasteries and their jurisdiction, including a regulation outlining the criteria needed for a monastery to retain juridical autonomy or else be absorbed by another entity or face closure. The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is now charged with creating a new instruction to replace what had been the current -- but now no longer in effect -- "Verbi Sponsa" -- the congregation's 1999 instruction on contemplative life and cloistered nuns. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told reporters July 22 that the new apostolic constitution is meant to fill the legislative gaps that have become apparent since Pope Pius XII's apostolic constitution "Sponsa Christi," issued 66 years ago. The bulk of the new document outlines 12 aspects of consecrated life that call for "discernment and renewed norms" in an effort to help contemplative women fulfill their specific vocation and "essential elements of contemplative life," the pope wrote. The document also notes today's pervasive "digital culture" and praises the potential of internet for formation and communication. However, the pope calls for "prudent discernment" in the use of new media so that they don't lead women to "wasting time or escaping from the demands of fraternal life in community" or become harmful to one's vocation or an obstacle to contemplative life. The pope praised contemplative women and expressed the church's long-held esteem for men and women who chose to follow Christ "more closely" by dedicating their lives to him "with an undivided heart" and in a prophetic way. Underlining how much the church and humanity need their prayers, self-sacrifice and evangelizing witness, the pope said it was not easy for today's world to understand their "particular vocation and your hidden mission; and yet it needs them immensely." Like beacons of light, contemplative women are "torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time," pointing the way to the new dawn and the truth and life of Christ, the pope said. They are "like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, announce to us: 'I have seen the Lord!'" and Mary, the Mother of God, who contemplates the mystery of God in order to see the world "with spiritual eyes." However, contemplative life can "meet with subtle temptations" -- the most dangerous being: listlessness, falling into mere routine, lack of enthusiasm and hope, and "paralyzing lethargy," he said. To that end, the pope highlighted 12 aspects of contemplative and monastic life that needed particular attention and renewed norms for women: formation; prayer; the word of God; the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation; fraternal life in community; autonomy; federations; the cloister; work; silence; media; and asceticism. The document includes clearer regulations saying that maintaining juridical autonomy will entail having "a certain, even minimal, number of sisters, provided that the majority are not elderly, the vitality needed to practice and spread the charism, a real capacity to provide for formation and governance, dignity and quality of liturgical, fraternal and spiritual life, sign value and participation in life of the local church, self-sufficiency and a suitably appointed monastery building." If a monastery falls short of the criteria, then the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life "will study the possibility of establishing an ad hoc commission made up of the ordinary, the president of the federation, a representative of the federation and the abbess or prioress of the monastery." The commission's aim will be to find ways to revitalize the monastery "or to effect its closure." Pope Francis repeats warnings he has made before in speeches to consecrated men and women, against "the recruitment of candidates from other countries solely for the sake of ensuring the survival of a monastery." Archbishop Rodriguez explained the church is "not closing its doors" to its universal makeup, but that more thorough and careful discernment must be made by superiors and candidates in reflecting upon their reasons for entering monastic life. The document, the archbishop said, also clearly states that nuns charged with formation can receive continued formation for themselves even outside the monastery, in a way that is consistent with their charism. The importance of their own formation cannot be sacrificed, he said, just because they have been called to live a cloistered life. The other major change, the archbishop said is contained in article 10, in which each monastery is to ask the Holy See "what form of cloister it wishes to embrace, whenever a different form of cloister from the present one is called for." "Once one of the possible forms of cloister is chosen and approved, each monastery will take care to comply with, and live in accordance with, its demands," the document said. Other mandatory norms each monastery will have to adhere to: verify the centrality and place of prayer in daily life; provide for "lectio divina" and eucharistic adoration; find ways to involve the local church more; and provide "suitable moments of silence." The archbishop said no document on the life of contemplative men's orders was in the works or being considered. He said work on the constitution began two-and-a-half years ago when the congregation sent out a questionnaire to every monastery, about 4,000 around the world. The responses were compiled and considered in the drafting process of the new constitution, he said, and contemplative women were "greatly listened to." Like the number of religious men and women, the number of contemplative women religious has declined the past decade going from more than 48,000 women in 2000 to less than 39,000 in 2014, he said. Europe remains the continent with the highest numbers of contemplative women -- more than 23,000, followed by the Americas with more than 8,000. - - - Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -Copyright © 2016 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.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, ReutersBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been appointed as chair of a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both citizens and police officers among those dead. The task force's charge includes helping bishops to engage directly the challenging problems highlighted by the shootings. Task force members will gather and disseminate supportive resources and "best practices" for their fellow bishops; actively listening to the concerns of members in troubled communities and law enforcement; and build strong relationships to help prevent and resolve conflicts. "By stepping forward to embrace the suffering, through unified, concrete action animated by the love of Christ, we hope to nurture peace and build bridges of communication and mutual aid in our own communities," said a July 21 statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In addition to creating the task force and appointing its members, Archbishop Kurtz also called for a national day of prayer for peace in our communities, to be held Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver. Archbishop Gregory is a former USCCB president. Other task force members are Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social Development; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for African-American Affairs; Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress. The day of prayer, according to a July 21 USCCB announcement about the task force's formation, will "serve as a focal point for the work of the task force." The task force's work will conclude with the USCCB's fall general meeting in November, at which time it will report on its activities and recommendations for future work. "I have stressed the need to look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence," Archbishop Kurtz said. "The day of prayer and special task force will help us advance in that direction." The task force will have bishop consultants, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB vice president, as well as bishops whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme gun violence, or who otherwise bring special insight or experience on related questions. An equal or smaller number of lay consultants with relevant expertise will be appointed soon thereafter, the USCCB announcement said. "I am honored to lead this task force which will assist my brother bishops, individually and as a group, to accompany suffering communities on the path toward peace and reconciliation," said Archbishop Gregory in a July 21 statement. "We are one body in Christ, so we must walk with our brothers and sisters and renew our commitment to promote healing. The suffering is not somewhere else, or someone else's; it is our own, in our very dioceses."- - -Copyright © 2016 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.