Being legally blind doesn’t hinder Catholic priest in serving his flock

Father Bernard J. Ezaki, parochial vicar at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Church in Easton, Pa., gives Communion at Mass July 2. He has been legally blind since birth. (CNS/Ed Koskey Jr.)

Father Bernard J. Ezaki, parochial vicar at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Church in Easton, Pa., gives Communion at Mass July 2. He has been legally blind since birth. (CNS/Ed Koskey Jr.)

By Anthony Salamone
Catholic News Service

EASTON, Pa. (CNS) — A visitor attending Mass at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Church might not notice anything unusual about the celebrant.

Father Bernard J. Ezaki walks the center aisle of the massive church in Easton. He climbs the steps leading to the altar like any other priest or liturgical minister. He recites prayers with the normal vigor and rhythm of a cleric. People might notice Father Ezaki doesn’t use the Sacramentary to read the prayers, or that Father Ezaki holds a micro-cassette in his left hand, and that technology contains all the Mass prayers and readings.

He also distributes holy Communion to the faithful just like any other priest, though he has one rule: Be still. “I need a big landing field,” he said. “I tell them, especially at funerals, ‘I don’t want to put my fingers in your mouth.'”

If you haven’t caught on by now, here is what you need to know about Father Ezaki: He is legally blind; he has been that way since birth. “I’m grateful,” the 60-year-old priest said during an interview in his office, where decorations include a statuette of Stuart, the short, one-eyed minion from the “Despicable Me” movies. “If I could see well, I’d be in trouble. I might not even be a priest today.” Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Charlottesville: The antidote is in the venom

(CNS guest column)

Carole Norris Greene was an associate editor for CNS for nearly 22 years. (CNS)

Carole Norris Greene

By Carole Norris Greene
Catholic News Service

The Ku Klux Klan once came out primarily at night, carrying torches with their faces covered by hoods with ghostly openings for eyes and mouths.

Not anymore.

They were out in droves in Charlottesville, Virginia, in mid-August. Their faces were unmasked and held high, unapologetic. They joined hundreds of other white supremacists protesting the February vote by the City Council to remove a statue from Lee Park that has memorialized Confederate General Robert E. Lee since 1924. In June, the city renamed Lee Park to Emancipation Park.

Remove the statue and you try to erase history, the Unite the Right rally argued vehemently.

That statue, said hundreds of counterprotesters with equal passion, is a monument to white supremacy and must go.

Soon evil, like a venomous snake, reared its ugly head in the once-quiet college town.

I was vacationing in Charlottesville with my husband and a friend the three days leading up to the ill-fated rally. Everywhere we went, we were greeted by friendly people. We drove home that Friday morning unaware of the hatred to be spewed that night as tiki torches were lifted high and racial slurs chanted. Continue reading

Posted in CNS columns

Vatican pharmacy does booming business

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Serving an average of more than 2,000 clients a day, the Vatican pharmacy may be one of the world’s busiest in-person dispensaries of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medicines, soaps, ointments and elixirs.

Run, since 1874, by the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, the pharmacy continues to produce some of its own ointments and potions, Brother Thomas Binish Mulackal told the Vatican newspaper.

The Vatican’s own products include a cream for preventing bedsores, anise and quinine elixirs, six different fragrances of soap, lavender water, an anti-acne lotion and a specially produced aftershave, said Brother Mulackal, the pharmacy director. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Sunday Scripture readings, Aug. 20, 2017: Meeting the God you cannot understand

The Catholic News Service column, "Speak to Me Lord," offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

The Catholic News Service column “Speak to Me Lord” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Aug. 20, Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle A Readings

      1) Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

      Psalm 67: 2-3, 5-8

      2) Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

      Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

 

By Kevin Perrotta
Catholic News Service

Kevin Perrotta writes for the Catholic News Service Scripture column, "Speak to Me Lord." (CNS photo/courtesy Kevin Perrotta)

Kevin Perrotta writes for the Catholic News Service Scripture column, “Speak to Me Lord.” (CNS photo/courtesy Kevin Perrotta)

God is mysterious, no question about that. Today’s readings provide ample evidence.

“My salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed,” God says (Is 56:1). Looking around at a nation and world filled with the opposite of his justice, we may wonder what that “about to” means. When, Lord, when is your justice going to come?

“God delivered all to disobedience,” Paul writes, “that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32). Paul says that God uses some people’s rejection of him to open the door for others to come to faith.

Rare is the homilist who will probe that paradox! Paul himself ends his exploration with bafflement and awe: “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom 11:33).

A God who uses injustice and rejection to accomplish his good purposes lies beyond our comprehension.

God has, however, brought himself into our field of vision. Jesus of Nazareth is his son in human flesh. Jesus is God you can see and hear, God you can relate to as a fellow human being. Jesus is God accessible.

And yet, as today’s Gospel shows, Jesus is mysterious. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Catholic leaders urge prayers, unity after attacks in Spain

Injured people react after a van crashed into pedestrians in the Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17. (CNS/EPA)

Injured people react after a van crashed into pedestrians in the Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17. (CNS/EPA)

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Spanish church leaders urged prayers and national unity after two terrorist attacks left at least 19 people dead.

Pope Francis, U.S. bishops and others weighed in with prayers and rejection of the Aug. 17 attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, where cars drove into pedestrians. The Islamic State group claimed credit for the attacks. Thirteen were killed in Barcelona; one pedestrian and five suspects were killed in Cambrils.

“People are deeply shocked and saddened by this totally random event,” said Msgr. Josep Ramon Perez, dean of Barcelona’s Catholic cathedral. “While many are naturally asking what’s happening to the world to make such things possible, many also recognize that the most important response is to pray for peace.” Continue reading

Posted in World

Congregation centennial: Supporting Eastern Catholics against all odds

Slovak Archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, prays at the Mass opening a plenary meeting of the congregation in this 2013 file photo. The congregation is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its establishment as a Vatican office dedicated to supporting the Eastern Catholic churches and ensuring their liturgies, spirituality and traditions continue to be part of the universal Catholic Church. (CNS/L'Osservatore)

Slovak Archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, prays at the Mass opening a plenary meeting of the congregation in this 2013 file photo. The congregation is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its establishment as a Vatican office dedicated to supporting the Eastern Catholic churches and ensuring their liturgies, spirituality and traditions continue to be part of the universal Catholic Church. (CNS/L’Osservatore)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, an office that supports the Eastern Catholic churches and strives to ensure that the universal Catholic Church treasures its diversity, including in liturgy, spirituality and even canon law.

Coincidentally established five months before the Russian Revolution, the congregation continually has had to face the real persecution and threatened existence of some of the Eastern churches it was founded to fortify.

Until 1989-90, many of the Byzantine Catholic churches — including, notably, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the largest of all the Eastern churches — were either outlawed or severely repressed by the communist governments of Eastern Europe, said Archbishop Cyril Vasil, a member of the Slovak Catholic Church and secretary of the congregation. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Pope offers prayers for victims of terrorist attack in Barcelona

Pope Francis leads a general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican earlier this year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis leads a general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican earlier this year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of a terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain, that left at least 12 people dead and injured dozens of others.

“With great concern the Holy Father has learned about what is happening in Barcelona. The pope prays for the victims of this attack and wants to express his closeness to the whole Spanish people, particularly the injured and the families of the victims,” said an Aug. 17 statement from Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican, World