Baby Jesus reminds us of painful plight of migrants, pope says

A boat representing migrants is pictured in the Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A boat representing migrants is pictured in the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Dec. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz  Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are symbols of God’s love and hope, reminding us to contemplate the beauty of creation and welcome the marginalized, Pope Francis said.

Baby Jesus, whose parents could find no decent shelter and had to flee persecution, is a reminder of the “painful experience” of so many migrants today, he said Dec. 9, just before the Vatican Christmas tree was to be lit and its Nativity scene was to be unveiled.

Nativity scenes all over the world “are an invitation to make room in our life and society for God — hidden in the gaze of so many people” who are living in need, poverty or suffering, he told people involved in donating the tree and creche for St. Peter’s Square.

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Posted in Vatican

John Glenn, American ‘icon,’ astronaut, former U.S. senator, dies at 95

John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died Dec. 8 at age 95. (CNS photo/Paolo Cocco, Reuters)

John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died Dec. 8 at age 95. (CNS photo/Paolo Cocco, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNS) — Astronaut legend and decorated World War II pilot John H. Glenn, who served for 24 years in the U.S. Senate and inspired young people to pursue careers in sciences and engineering, died Dec. 8. He was 95.

Born in Cambridge and raised in nearby New Concord, Glenn was propelled to fame after being one of seven military test pilots chosen as the country’s first astronauts. He was the third American in space and the first to orbit earth when he flew aboard the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule, traversing the globe three times in a flight that lasted just less than five hours Feb. 20, 1962.

Among those watching Glenn’s first space flight was St. John XXIII, who asked to be kept regularly informed about the progress of flight.

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Posted in U.S.

In Jesuit publications, filmmaker Scorsese talks about his faith

Pope Francis meets U.S. film director Martin Scorsese during a Nov. 30 private audience at the Vatican. The meeting took place the morning after the screening of his film, "Silence," for about 300 Jesuits. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

Pope Francis meets U.S. film director Martin Scorsese during a Nov. 30 private audience at the Vatican. The meeting took place the morning after the screening of his film, “Silence,” for about 300 Jesuits. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) — In two long interviews with Jesuit publications, director Martin Scorsese described his new film “Silence” as a major stage in his pilgrimage of faith, a pilgrimage that included flunking out of the minor seminary, investigating other religions and recognizing that the Catholic Church was his home.

Growing up in New York, “I was extraordinarily lucky, because I had a remarkable priest, Father (Frank) Principe. I learned so much from him, and that includes mercy with oneself and with others,” Scorsese told Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the journal La Civilta Cattolica.

“This man was a real guide. He could talk tough, but he never actually forced you to do anything — he guided you. Advised you. Cajoled you. He had such extraordinary love,” the director said in the interview, published Dec. 9.

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Posted in U.S., Vatican

Mary shows what good comes from wholehearted ‘yes’ to God, pope says

Flowers decorate an image of Mary and the child Jesus at the base of a Marian statue at the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Rome's firefighters have placed flowers high atop the statue every year since 1857. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Flowers decorate an image of Mary and the child Jesus at the base of a Marian statue at the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Rome’s firefighters have placed flowers high atop the statue every year since 1857. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although she was just a humble young woman from a small town, Mary’s total “yes” to God was “the most important ‘yes’ of history” and overturned Adam and Eve’s prideful “no,” which unleashed sin into the world, Pope Francis said.

“With generosity and trust like Mary, may each of us say this personal ‘yes’ to God today,” Pope Francis prayed Dec. 8 as he recited the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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Catholics urged to witness faith in public arena as St. Thomas More did

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge displays the apostolic letter from Pope Francis appointing him as the fourth bishop of the Arlington Diocese during his installation Mass Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. (CNS photo/Ashleigh Buyers, Catholic Herald)

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge displays the apostolic letter from Pope Francis appointing him as the fourth bishop of the Arlington Diocese during his installation Mass Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. (CNS photo/Ashleigh Buyers, Catholic Herald)

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said that during these unsettling times, Catholics must imitate the witness of St. Thomas More by bringing the joy of the Gospel to the public arena with conviction and love.

“We do so as we protect the unborn and the sacredness of life at every stage, as we uphold the dignity of each and every human person without exception, as we protect our religious freedom and lift up the beautiful vocation of marriage and its sanctity as Jesus taught,” Bishop Burbidge said, “and of course, as we reach out in love to the poor and the needy and most vulnerable.”

The bishop was installed as Arlington’s fourth bishop Dec. 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. He succeeds Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who retired after heading the Arlington Diocese for 17 years.

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Pilgrims on horseback pay homage to Mary at Illinois Guadalupe shrine

A member of of Club Los Vaqueros Unidos (United Cowboy Club) of Wadsworth, Ill., carries a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe as he makes his way to the the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, Ill., as part of a pre-celebration for her Dec. 12 feast day. (CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

A member of of Club Los Vaqueros Unidos (United Cowboy Club) of Wadsworth, Ill., carries a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe as he makes his way to the the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, Ill., as part of a pre-celebration for her Dec. 12 feast day. (CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

By Joyce Duriga
Catholic News Service

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CNS) — With thick, wet snow falling down and live mariachi music to greet them, around 400 riders on horseback rode up to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines Dec. 4 to pay homage to Mary.

Some wore ponchos bearing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Other riders carried their cellphones and were recording the ride. Once in front of the outdoor shrine, each rider handed over a red rose for Mary and was blessed with holy water by shrine rector Father Esequiel Sanchez. The priest himself entered the shrine on horseback and was wearing a traditional Mexican sombrero.

It’s the fifth year for the pilgrimage, which is organized by Club Los Vaqueros Unidos (United Cowboys Club) in Wadsworth. The horseback pilgrimage is the unofficial kickoff of celebrations at the shrine that culminate with 24 hours of Masses and visits to the outdoor shrine Dec. 12 for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Continue reading

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Vatican updates guidelines for educating priests

Seminarians attend Pope Francis' celebration of Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Seminarians attend Pope Francis’ celebration of Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church needs holy, healthy and humble priests, and that requires prayers for vocations and the careful selection and training of candidates, said the Congregation for Clergy.

Updating 1985 guidelines for preparing men for the Latin-rite priesthood and ensuring their continuing education, training and support, the Congregation for Clergy Dec. 7 released “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” a detailed set of guidelines and norms for priestly formation.

The updated document draws heavily on St. John Paul II’s 1992 apostolic exhortation on priestly formation, as well as on the teaching of and norms issued by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and by Vatican offices over the past three decades. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican