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Clothing drive half a world away helps babies in Christ's hometown

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rhina Guidos

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The ask for baby items heading to the Holy Land couldn't be more appropriate: "swaddling clothes needed."

The Gospel of Luke mentions, after all, that Mary wrapped the baby Jesus in "swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

But the "swaddling clothes" of modern times come in the form of onesies, the one-piece clothing item for babies, and it's the indispensable item the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation has been asking for as a gift to give to newborns in Christ's birthplace.

Through a clothing drive at Washington's Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, the hospital has collected a mound of them underneath an altar of St. Francis and the first nativity depiction.

"One of them had a note, 'With love from Howard University,'" said Father Jim Gardiner, a Conventual Franciscan who blessed the items Dec. 13, recalling one of the messages left behind by a donor.

There's something about clothing a baby in Bethlehem for Christmas, said Michele Burke Bowe, of the hospital's Washington-based foundation, about the success of the clothing drive now in its fourth year. She takes the items to the hospital, operated by the Order of Malta, in January.

When Israel froze in February the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, it caused an economic crisis for families living in the West Bank, where Bethlehem is located. Many families have been going without heat or water because of the crisis, so for new moms already feeling vulnerable to at least have an article of clothing, "it's a blessing to have an outfit for their child," when the baby is born, said Bowe.

Some of the items were donated by pilgrims who visited the hospital earlier this year, said Father Gardiner. And some items were donated by people who now have adopted the onesie donation as a tradition, said Bowe.

The Catholic hospital expects its staff will deliver about 4,700 babies this year, including some in need of emergency intensive care and born to struggling families who may not otherwise be able to afford health care for their newborn, said Bowe. Many Palestinian families living there also are limited by a barrier wall of some 258 miles that restricts movement and access to jobs and goods and to hospitals.

That sometimes also leads to loss of life. But the hospital is there because of one of the core teachings of Catholicism.

"As Catholics, we value life," she told Catholic News Service.

At the hospital, families are helped regardless of creed or economic situation.

"They're so grateful just to have something," Bowe said.

Though the clothing drives ends in December, the foundation accepts donations for its other works, including a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit cares for critically ill newborns, at www.birthplaceofhope.org.

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Copyright © 2019 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 [email protected]

People's hearts yearn for God, not possessions, status, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Christmas season is a time to reflect on what life is all about, Pope Francis told an international group of performers.

"The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves, 'What is it that I am waiting for in my life? What is the great desire of my heart?' You too, with your songs, help awaken or reawaken this healthy human 'yearning' in the hearts of many people," he said.

The pope met Dec. 13 with the group of singers, songwriters, musicians and conductors the day before they were to perform in the Vatican's Paul VI hall for a benefit concert to help protect the Amazon and support indigenous communities there.

The lineup was scheduled to include: Lionel Richie, the U.S. Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter; Susan Boyle, who was a 2009 finalist on "Britain's Got Talent"; and Bonnie Tyler, whose songs "It's a Heartache" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" are among the best-selling singles of all time.

The Charleston Gospel Choir and several Italian performers were also part of the lineup for the 2019 "Christmas Concert in the Vatican," sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

The pope told the performers and concert organizers that God is the author of the "yearning" people feel in their heart, "and he comes to meet us by this route."

God cannot be found along the path of "vain compulsion to acquire possessions or to keep up appearances. It is not there that God comes; no one will meet on that route. But surely he comes wherever there is hunger and thirst for peace, justice, freedom and love," the pope said.  

"Dear artists, I thank you for all that you do. I wish you the best for your activities and your spiritual growth," the pope said, asking that their hearts be touched by the "mystery of Christmas, so that you can convey some of that same tenderness to those who listen to you."

Donations and proceeds from ticket sales were to go toward a Salesian project helping indigenous communities in northwestern Brazil and to a campaign of Scholas Occurrentes to raise awareness in 450,000 schools around the world promoting reforestation.

The show, recorded before a live audience Dec. 14, was to be broadcast by Italian television Christmas Eve.

Later in the day, Pope Francis was scheduled to take part -- via live video link-up -- in the launch of a U.S. headquarters of Scholas Occurrentes, which is Latin for "schools for encounter."

The global educational project, launched by Pope Francis in 2013, works to encourage social integration ?and a culture of encounter among high school students through sports, arts and technology.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the city's mayor, Eric Garcetti, along with about 30 Catholic high school students of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, were to join in from Los Angeles in the live videoconference as were Scholas students in Haiti, Japan and Spain.

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Copyright © 2019 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 [email protected]

Vatican releases pope's Christmas season schedule

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' 2019-20 Christmas season celebrations will include the usual liturgies and traditions.

Releasing the pope's schedule Dec. 12, the Vatican said he would:

-- Celebrate Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24.

-- Address the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square and give his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) at noon on Christmas Day.

-- Celebrate evening prayer Dec. 31 in St. Peter's Basilica at 5 p.m. and lead the singing of the "Te Deum" to thank God for the year that is ending.

-- Celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. Jan. 1, the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Prayer for Peace, in St. Peter's Basilica.

-- Celebrate the feast of the Epiphany Jan. 6 with a Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican website also has on its schedule that Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel and baptize newborns Jan. 12, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

 

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Copyright © 2019 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 [email protected]

Outgoing Nuncio to Filipinos: Spread the Faith to the World

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia Moving to Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations

The post Outgoing Nuncio to Filipinos: Spread the Faith to the World appeared first on ZENIT - English.

50th Anniversary of Pope’s Ordination: A Priesthood Marked by Mercy

Pope Speaks on this Ministry

The post 50th Anniversary of Pope’s Ordination: A Priesthood Marked by Mercy appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Francis Applauds French Mercy Movements

'What unites you is the desire to make known to the world the joy of mercy through the diversity of your charisms'

The post Francis Applauds French Mercy Movements appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Holy Father Receives Christmas Concert Contributors

Promoted by Congregation for Catholic Education

The post Holy Father Receives Christmas Concert Contributors appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Second Advent Sermon of 2019: Mary in the Visitation

'My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord'

The post Second Advent Sermon of 2019: Mary in the Visitation appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Mary is loving mother, humble disciple, pope says on Guadalupe feast

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis said she reminds Catholics of her true essence as a woman, a mother and a "mestiza" or person of mixed race.

She revealed herself to St. Juan Diego as a "mestiza" to show "that she is everyone's mother," and she speaks to everyone as she spoke to this indigenous saint five centuries ago, with tenderness and motherly love, the pope said in his homily during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 12.

Seminarians and priests from Rome's Pontifical Latin American College alternated singing their traditional guitar-accompanied songs with the Sistine Chapel choir singing parts of the Mass in Gregorian chant.

The pope and concelebrating cardinals and bishops processed into the basilica dressed in white. Among the concelebrants were U.S. bishops from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin who were in Rome as part of their Dec. 9-13 "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses.

Pope Francis stood before a replica of St. Juan Diego's tilma, which bears the image of Mary, who appeared to the saint in 1531.

In his homily, which the pope delivered off-the-cuff in Spanish, he reflected on the way Mary appears in the Gospels and in the apparitions to St. Juan Diego.

She is first and foremost a woman who has been given many titles -- many which contain the title "Our Lady," which underlines her womanhood, he said.

But, he said, "she doesn't try to be something else: she is a woman disciple," the pope said.

She is humble and faithful to her teacher, her son, "the only Redeemer," he said.

She never asked and "never wanted to take something of her son for herself. She never presented herself as a co-Redemptrix, but as a disciple" who served him and gave life, he said.

Pope Francis' mention of Mary and the role of co-Redemptrix was a reference to the fact that, for decades, some Catholics, including specialists in Mariology, have requested that Mary be officially proclaimed co-Redemptrix for her cooperative role with Jesus, the redeemer. However, St. John Paul II and Popes Benedict XVI and Francis declined to do so.

Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is "our mother, the mother of our people" and the church, Pope Francis said in his homily.

Understanding the church through Mary is essential also for understanding the role of women in the church, he said, because their role is more than just "functional."

Like Mary, women make the church maternal and transform it into the "holy mother church," he said.

It is also important, Pope Francis said, that Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego as a woman of mixed race.

That way she shows she is the mother of all peoples; she became one with the people and, by bringing Jesus into the world, she also made God one of the people with Jesus as both true God and man.

At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, gave special thanks and congratulations to Pope Francis for the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood Dec. 13.

After applause from the congregation, Cardinal Ouellet thanked the pope for the way he lives the priesthood, "in a spirit of humility and mercy, in a spirit of reform and holiness, giving priority and great charity to those most in need."

"Not everyone understands fully" the pope's gestures, words and decisions, he said, "but I can assure you that the people of God who walk in faith are inspired and consoled by your example and magisterium."

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Copyright © 2019 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 [email protected]