Message Nov. 25, 2016

Our Lady of Medjugorje's November 25, 2016


Message for the World

"Dear Children! Also today, I am calling you to return to prayer. In this time of grace, God has permitted me to lead you towards holiness and a simple life - that in little things you discover God the Creator; that you fall in love with Him; and that your life be a thanksgiving to the Most High for everything He is giving you. Little children, in love, may your life be a gift for others and God will bless you; but you, witness without interest - out of love for God. I am with yon and intercede before my Son for all of you!! Thank you for having responded to my call."

What Ecumenism is Not

Distinguished Cardinals,

Dear Brother Bishop and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to meet with you on the occasion of your Plenary Session, which is addressing the theme “Christian unity: what model for full communion”. I thank Cardinal Koch for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all of you.

In the course of this year, I have had the opportunity to experience the many significant ecumenical meetings, both in Rome and during journeys. Each of these meetings was for me a source of comfort, because I was able to see that the desire for communion is alive and well. As Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, aware of the responsibility entrusted to me by the Lord, I wish to confirm that Christian unity is one of my main concerns, and I pray that it will be increasingly shared by every baptized person.

Christian unity is an essential requirement of our faith, a requirement that flows from the depth of our being believers in Jesus Christ. We invoke unity because we invoke Christ. We wish to live unity, because we wish to follow Christ, to live his love, to enjoy the mystery of his being one with the Father, who is, then, the essence of divine love. In the Holy Spirit, Jesus himself associates us in this prayer: “as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us…I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, that the world may know that you have sent me, and that you have loved them even as you have loved me…that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (cf. Jn, 17:21, 23, 26).  According to Jesus’ priestly prayer, what we yearn for is unity in the Father’s love which comes to us offered in Jesus Christ, a love that informs thought and doctrines. It is not enough to be in agreement in our understanding of the Gospel, but all of us believers must be united to Christ and in Christ. It is our personal and communal conversion, a gradual conformation to him (cf. Rom. 8:28), our living ever more in him (cf. Gal. 2:20), which enables us to grow in communion among ourselves. This is the spirit that also sustains the study sessions and every other type of effort in order to come to closer points of view.

Keeping this clearly in mind, it is possible to unmask certain false models of communion that in reality do not lead to unity but contradict it in its essence.

First of all, unity is not the fruit of our human efforts nor the product built by ecclesiastical diplomacy, but is a gift that comes from on high.  We men are unable to achieve unity by ourselves, nor can we discern the ways and timing.  What, then, is our role?  What must we do to promote Christian unity?  Our task is to receive this gift and make it visible to all. From this point of view, unity, before being an objective, is a journey, with its road maps and rhythms, its slowdowns and accelerations, and even its standstills. As a journey, unity requires patient waiting, tenacity, effort and commitment; it does not annul conflicts and does not negate disagreements, but rather, at times it can expose us to the risk of new misunderstandings. Unity can be accepted only by those who decide to set out on a journey toward a destiny that today may seem rather distant. However, those who follow this way are comforted by the continual experience of a communion joyfully perceived, even if not yet fully attained, every time that presumption is set aside and we all recognize ourselves as in need of all God’s love.  And what bond unites all of us Christians more than the experience of being sinners but at the same time the object of God’s infinite mercy revealed to us by Jesus Christ? Likewise, unity of love is already a reality when those whom God had chosen and called to form his people proclaim together the wonders that he has done for them, above all by offering a testimony of life full of charity to all (cf. I Pt. 2:4-10).  For this reason, I like to say that unity is made by walking, in order to recall that when we walk together, that is, when we meet as brothers, we pray together, we collaborate together in the proclamation of the Gospel, and in the service to the least, we are already united. All the theological and ecclesiological differences that still divide Christians will only be surmounted along this path, although today we do not know how and when [it will happen], but that it will happen according to what the Holy Spirit will suggest for the good of the Church.

In the second place, unity is not uniformity. When the different theological, liturgical, spiritual and canonical differences which have developed in the Christian world are genuinely rooted in the apostolic tradition, they are a treasure and not a threat to the unity of the Church. To seek to do away with such diversity is to go against the Holy Spirit, who acts by enriching 'the' community of believers with a variety of gifts. In the course of history, there have been attempts of this nature with consequences which  sometimes cause suffering even today. If instead we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become conflict because he spurs us to live variety in the communion of the Church. It is an ecumenical task to respect legitimate differences and to lead to the overcoming of the irreconcilable differences with the unity God requests. The continuation of such differences must not paralyze us, but push us to come together to seek the way to address such obstacles successfully.  

Finally, unity is not absorption. Christian unity does not imply an ecumenism "in reverse", 'by which some might deny their own history of faith; not does it tolerate proselytism, rather, a poison for the Journey of ecumenism. Before examining what separates us, it is important to perceive also in an existential way, the treasure of what we have in common, such as the Sacred Scripture and the great professions of faith of the first Ecumenical Councils. By doing so, we Christians can recognize ourselves as brothers  and sisters who believe in the one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, committed together to seek the way to obey today to the Word of God who wants us to be united. Ecumenism is true when it is able to shift our attention away from ourselves, from our argumentations and formulations, to the Word of God which demands to be heard, welcomed and witnessed in the world. Therefore, the various Christian communities are called not to “compete with one another”, but to work together. My recent visit to  Lund reminded me of how timely is the ecumenical principle – formulated there by the World Council of Churches in 1952 – which recommends to Christians to “act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately”.

I thank you for your commitment. Be assured that you are remembered in my prayers, and I trust in your prayers for me. May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady protect you.

Pope’s Visit to Sweden Gets Personal

My grandmother, Anna Louise Johnson Benson, was born near Malmo, Sweden,  more than 130 years ago. A Lutheran, she was a devout Christian who held Bible meetings in her adopted home in Greene Township outside of Erie.

Pope Francis recently traveled to my ancestral home to help commemorate, with our Lutheran brothers and sisters, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. He celebrated Mass in Malmo for the city's tiny Catholic community.

The apostolic trip culminates years of theological progress in the field of ecumenism. In 1999, the Vatican signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and participated in the shared of history of the Reformation in the 2013 document, "From Conflict to Communion."

During his visit to Sweden, Pope Francis urged Catholics and Lutherans to recognize what he called past "errors" and move "beyond the controversies and disagreement that have often prevented us from understanding one another."

The pope said the division between Catholics and Lutherans was reinforced over the centuries "by the powerful of this world," rather than average people.

I can attest to that personally. My father, who was born Lutheran, converted to Catholicism when he married my mother in 1945. The Catholic Church would not allow my parents-both of whom were Christian-to marry on the altar at St. Patrick Church in Erie. They had to say their vows in the church rectory.

Fast forward to 1994, almost 50 years later, when I married a Norwegian  Lutheran. The Catholic Church allowed us to marry on the altar, but we could not share the Eucharist. During our 22-plus years of marriage, my husband has remained Lutheran, but he regularly attends Catholic Mass with me and our children. He brings to our marriage a strong abiding Christian faith that puts me to shame on many levels.

These are the issues that Pope Francis is trying to address. He often speaks of the need for all Christians to come together in a world besieged by terror and all manner of catastrophe. A strong Christian faith-whether it's Lutheran or Catholic-also helps us face problems that may arise around the kitchen table.

The world benefits from a unified front.

As Pope Francis said in his homily in Sweden: "We Christians will be credible witness of mercy to the extent that forgiveness, renewal and reconciliation are daily experienced in our midst. Together we can proclaim and manifest God's mercy, concretely and joyfully, by upholding and promoting the dignity of every person. Without this service to the world and in the world, Christian faith is incomplete."

Mary Solberg is the editor of FaithLife. 

Erie Diocese, Erie, PA

Andy Rooney says: I don't believe in Santa Clause, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-­Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution.

Life, Liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking Him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles.

According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-l. So what would you expect -somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome……

But what about the atheists? Is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundation.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time that the majority Rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. God help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all ... Especially those who denounce Him, God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect out right to pray and worship. .

Let’s make this the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. And our military forces come home from all the wars. Keep looking up.

Prayers go up - Blessings come down

This nation is not ruled by the majority, said Thomas Jefferson, "it is ruled by the majority who participate." We are called to participate in our communities by promoting the common good. Not only are we called to participate, but we are also called to make sure that others do as well.

Bethany Retreat Center: The heart of young People Who Care Ministries is located in Frenchville, PA P.O. Box 129,16836 Phone # 814-263-4518 Web: This is truly a Christian outreach to the poor. They provide help with hone repairs, cleaning, trips to medical facilities, food and clothing to infants, etc., etc., etc. Many volunteers come by way of youth and adult retreats - permanent and temporary volunteers. Sr. Sue, Sr. Ruth Ann and Sr. Karen provide spiritual help and direct a multitude of services. Volunteers, financial help and prayers are greatly appreciated.

New email:

Heavenly Father, I call on you in a special way. It is through your power that I was created. Every breath I take, every morning I awake, and every moment of every hour, I live under your power.

Father, I ask you to touch me with that same power. For if you created me from nothing, you can certainly recreate me. Fill me with the healing power of your spirit.   Cast out anything that should not be in me. Mend what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells. Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection.

Let the warmth of your healing love pass through my body to make new any unhealthy areas so that my body will function the way you created it to function.

And Father, restore me to full health in mind and body so that I may serve you the rest of my life.

I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Father Larry 1. Hess, The Christopher House (Contributed by Kathy Milliron and Arthur Allen)

"Evan the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God's creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect." Pope Francis

Our Lady's Monthly Message is available by phone 24/7: 1-814-787-5683(LOVE). Normally on the 26th of each month. Prayer requests can be made at this number. All prayer requests are given to the visionary Vicka to present to Our Lady. Prayer petitions may also be mailed in a sealed envelope to: The Holy Family, Inc. PO Box 442 St. Marys, PA 15857-0442.

"God leaves each one free to reject His infusion of love: for gifts cease to be gifts if they are forced on us.

God respects our freedom of will; He did not even enter into his human order of ours without consulting a woman. So neither does He elevate us to partake of His divine nature without our free consent. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 'Lift Up Your Heart'

"... holiness is a reality for all of you. Rejoice in the love, little children, that in the eyes of God's joy you are unrepeatable and irreplaceable, because you are God's joy in this world. Witness peace, prayer and love." Our Lady Queen of Peace, October 25, 2015.

"Grace is the participation of the very presence of God." Pope Leo XIII

And the Angel declared; 'Hail Mary full of Grace The Lord is With you.

Merry Christmas (Christ's Mass)