Monthly Archives: December 2011

Traditional Proclamation of Christ’s Birth

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2011 ( Benedict XVI has restored the tradition of proclaiming the birth of Christ with the chanting of the “Kalenda.” The chant culminated the prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square on Christmas Eve, which was accompanied by the unveiling of the life-size Nativity Scene.

Nativité (Marc Chagal)

Here is an English translation of the proclamation, provided by the U.S. bishops:

* * *


Today, the twenty–fifth day of December,

unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth and then formed man and woman in his own image.

Several thousand years after the flood, when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant.

Twenty–one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah; thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges; one thousand years from the anointing of David as king;

in the sixty–fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the one hundred and ninety–fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation of the city of Rome.

The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace,

Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit,

and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.

Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Read or download the entire proclamation with music at proclamation-of-the-birth-of-christ.


Blotting Out Parenthood

Imagine gazing at your child and coldly declaring, “You should never have been born.” Yet parents are doing exactly that in courts around the world as they bring “wrongful life” or “wrongful birth” lawsuits against doctors and fertility clinics.

  • “Wrongful life” cases are filed on behalf of the child, claiming that non-existence is preferable to living in a diseased state.
  • A 2003 lawsuit sought damages because Down syndrome was not diagnosed prenatally.
  • A 2009 case in England sought £1.5 million as a down payment on the care of Rupert, a 5-year-boy who was born with congenital heart defects, a cleft palate, a vertebral abnormality and a single kidney.

Here are some useful definitions:

1) Wrongful life means the the child sues the mother or other people for being born.

2) Wrongful birth means the mother sues other people for being burdened with a disabled child something she could have avoided. In essence wrongful birth suits are genetic or prenatal malpractice suits tort cases

3) Wrongful pregnancy means that you became pregnant or had a child period without wanting it (this happens if a pregnancy isn’t detected or a sterilisation procedure fails the difference between 1-3 in my eyes is that in 2) the child is damaging the mother.

in 1) the child him/herself can say they were wronged and they could at least theoretically say that based on their impairment or based on the societal framework.

3) is like 2) but not based on disability. Interestingly if you sue for 3) you will like in USA be compensated for the cost of e.g. the sterilisation procedure but NOT for the cost this addittional child will cost you till he/her is 18. But in 2) you will get payments for the costs the kid cost you (very likely lifetime costs). The rational for not giving child
related cost s to the mother in case 3) the non disabled child is that having a child is so great that you can’t get reimbursed for it. but in 2) in the case of the disabled child that argument of 3) is not used because having a disabled child is truly not a good thing and so you the mother were harmed.

In addition, there is case 4)

4) wrongful breech of warrenty means that a mother or child can sue because a bad embryo was used in the IVF procedure in the case preimplantation diagnostic is available. UK below opens possibility that child can sue related to preimplantation diagnostic

HFE Act1A; (1) (UK) In any case where

  • a child carried by a women as the result of the placing in her of an embryo or of sperm and eggs or her artificial insemination is born disabled,
  • the disability results from an act or ommission in the course of the selection, or the keeping or use outside the body, of the embryo carried by her or of the gametes used to bring into the creation of the embryo, and
  • a person is under this section answerable to the child in respect of the act of omission, the child’s disabilities are to be regarded as damage resulting from the wrongful act of that person and actionable accordingly at the suit of the child.

Read the entire scandalous practice at  When the Child ‘Ordered’ Is Not the Child Received. In similar connection, please see my Opinion comments on Abortion.

The Meaning of Christmas

Father Pietro Messa, president of the Higher School of Medieval and Franciscan Studies of Rome’s Antonianum Pontifical University is interviewed on the meaning of Christmas.

We know that the early Christians, all of them being of the Jewish religion, observed the Sabbath, but on the following day, that is the present Sunday, they gathered to commemorate the Resurrection. Hence, the first celebration held par excellence was Easter. Subsequently, other events of Jesus’ life began to be celebrated, such as the birth fixed on Dec. 25, namely, on the same day in which previously the Sol invictus was celebrated, that is, the celebration of not being overcome by darkness, given that the winter solstice had passed, the days began to be longer and light imposed itself on the darkness of the night. From celebration they passed to representation and from there to pilgrimages to Bethlehem, the city of David, from whose descent Jesus was born.

Read or download the entire interview at The Many Meanings of Christmas.

Covering the Crucifix & Re: Advent Candles

In the question and answer part of Zenith a reader addresses the custom of covering the crucifix during Christmas and Easter:

My parish has a beautiful crucifix mounted on the wall behind the altar that has been a great aid in myprayer life. Unfortunately, I must pray without this aid during the seasons of Christmas and of Easter, as during these seasons the crucifix is completely covered. During Christmas, a star is placed above the crucifix with a tail that hangs down to completely cover it. Likewise, during Easter, a banner of the Risen Christ is hung over the crucifix so that it is hidden from view. I realize that “a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, [be] either on the altar or near it” during Mass (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 308), and I considered the processional cross, which is placed beside the sanctuary during Mass, to fulfill this requirement when the crucifix behind the altar is covered (cf. GIRM, 122). However, upon further reflection, I now question if the processional cross fulfills this requirement as it is beside the sanctuary during Mass and not “next to the altar” (GIRM, 122); and, it is not “clearly visible to the [entire] assembled congregation” (GIRM, 308). As well, it does not “remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations” (GIRM, 308). Is it appropriate that the crucifix mounted on the wall behind the altar be covered during any liturgical season? — R.G., Leduc, Alberta

Advent candles at Mass: From a liturgical point of view, only the blessing of the wreath on the first Sunday of Advent is included among those that may be used at Mass. This rite has received the approval of the Holy See for those countries that requested its inclusion in their translation and adaptation of the Book of Blessings. It is not found in the original Latin benedictional. There is no ceremony outside of Mass to light the candles on Sundays 2, 3 and 4 of Advent, I think that it is legitimate for the priest to do so at the very beginning of the first Mass of the corresponding Sunday (or Saturday evening) with no added rituals or texts.

 Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university responds. Read or download the entire article at  Covering the Crucifix.

New Year’s Resolutions

While the figures for 2011 have not yet been published, heading into 2011 a majority of U.S. residents — 56% — thought it was not likely at all that they will make a New Year’s resolution for the coming year while 44% believed it is at least somewhat likely that they will. When Marist asked the same question in December 2009, 52% did not plan to make a resolution for 2010 while 48% did.

Younger Americans are still among those who are most likely to make a resolution.  In December 2010 58% of those under the age of 45 said they will resolve to improve an aspect of their life compared with 34% of those 45 and older.  In 2009, those proportions stood at 60% and 40%, respectively. Men and women were on equal footing here.  44% of men and the same proportion of women — 44% — resolved to make a change for 2011.

The Marist polls also found that while about 65% of people who made a resolution in 2008 kept their promise for at least part of the year, 35% never even made it out of the gate. Indeed, when you wake bleary-eyed on the first day of a new year — or decade — resolutions to “cut back” and “moderate” seem both an excellent idea and an impossibly hazy dream.

Wonder What the Dalai Lama Would Do?

Here’s a video clip of the Dalai Lama’s 18 recommendations for New Year’s Resolutions. (If you have trouble playing it, right click the link and download the source file.)

According to Alan Marlatt of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, who studies “mindfulness-based relapse prevention,” which uses meditation and Buddhist teachings and practices to help people break bad habits,
(Read “Battling Addiction: Are 12 Steps Too Many?”)

“Between stimulus and response, there’s a space, and in that space is our power to choose our response, and in our response lies our growth and freedom,” says Marlatt, quoting author and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl. Marlatt says, “Mindfulness gets you into that space.”

Being mindful may involve traditional meditation, sitting quietly and emptying your thoughts of distractions, and breathing deeply and slowly. But in Martlet’s method, these same traditional methods are used to focus your awareness on thoughts and feelings that result in undesirable behavior. Simply put: If you train yourself to recognize the triggers to undesirable behavior you can choose to resist them. “When there’s a fork in the road, craving is pulling you one way. Well, what’s the other way? You have to look down the other road and see where it takes you. Then you have a choice, instead of being on autopilot,” says Marlatt.

One tactic Martlett recommends for resisting those urges and triggers is called “urge-surfing,”  being mindful that craving and urges are like a waves — the craving or the urge rises to a peak, then crashes. This happens whether you
yield to the urge or not (most people maintain the fallacy that their  craving will escalate unless and until they give in). Giving in to cravings and urges actually reinforces the undesirable behavior— resisting reinforces resistance. Marlatt advises watching your urge, noting its peak and “surfing” it, rather than allowing it to wipe you out.

Another technique is to use willpower is like a muscle — the more you train and us it, the stronger it gets;  but like a muscle it snaps if overloaded. That’s why experts recommend setting short-term goals that are “moderately difficult, realistic, concrete and measurable.” As with physical exercise programs, you need to start at a level that challenges but does not overwhelm; only by meeting the challenge can you achieve a sense of achievement and success — and the drive to move on to greater challenges.

Hang out with People who are better Models and Imitators of Good Behavior

Consciously and unconsciously, people tend to imitate those around them. So surround yourself with people who can also be role models. “Make sure that people you hang out with are people who look and act the way you would like to. Social imitation is the easiest form not only of flattery but of self-improvement,” says Stanton Peele, author of Seven Tools to Beat Addiction. (Read “In Old Age, Friends Can Keep You Young. Really.”)

Social support is critical to changing all kinds of behavior. A good support system can not only help you through slip-ups but also help keep your New Year’s resolutions from taking over your life. Rather than obsessing about what you shouldn’t be doing, think about things you should be doing to enhance your life. The distraction will help you curb bad habits. The experts tell us to focus on our higher goals and positive behaviors, things that both sustain you physically, mentally, spiritually, and complement your life. Meaningful activities that give you pleasure and we should learn to engage in them regularly and proactively — whether it’s visiting the sick or homebound, participating in a ministry, taking a class or doing volunteer work (experience personal joy and meaning by helping others) — by focusing on positive, meaningful behavior you’ll  have less time for the cravings and urges.

What are your resolutions for 2012? Share your resolutions with us in a comment.

[Sources:  Marist Polls, Pebbles and Pundits, ät last accessed 2011-12-21; Maia Szalavitz. “How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions: Advice from the Experts.” at last accessed 2011-12-21]

Jesus was Breastfed

According to Margaret R Miles in her informative article “God’s Love, Mother’s Milk,”  we are presented with a very human theme: “the Virgin Mary with one breast exposed a she is nursing or preparing to nurse the infant Christ…the Virgin’s breast was a symbol of God’s loving provision of life, the nourishment and care that sustain life, and the salvation that promises eternal life.”  In this season of the Nativity, the event of the Incarnation, these become eminent  themes for reflection both in our worldly ministries and in our own spiritualities.

What do you think?

Virgin, Child & Angels-Michavila

The Virgin Mary breastfeeding the Infant Jesus (click here for a second Breastfeeding in Art video clip) has been a popular theme in religious art through the centuries; it has become spiritual art in that it turns away from the traditional European depictions of mother and child and represents more contemporary aspects, thus becoming spiritual art instead of tasteless-funeral-parlor-church-calendar-junk art. Here are just a few examples:

Holy Family + St Ann (El Greco)

Why Not?

Note the Infant's expression...

Our relationship with God?
Breastfeeding is a sign of God’s great love for us.
Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants,
but to his enemies, his wrath
(Isaiah 66:10-14)
Breastfeeding is a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s truly human motherhood of the Son of God, and thus of the humanity of our Savior.

Read or download the entire Margaret Miles’ article at God’s Love Mother’s Milk_miles
The website Breastfeeding in Art presents a large selection of breastfeeding depictions, many of which are religious in nature.

On Jesus’ Prayer as Love for God and Neighbor & On True Joy

One important instance is the healing of the deaf man (Mark 7:32-37). The Evangelist Marks account –which we just heard — shows that Jesus healing action is connected to His intense relationship both with His neighbor — the man who is ill — and with the Father. The scene of the miracle is carefully described in this way: And they brought to Him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought Him to lay His hand upon him. And taking him aside from the multitude privately, He put His fingers into his ears and He spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him “Ephphata,” that is, “Be opened.” (7:33-34).

Read or download the entire article: On Jesus’ Prayer as Love for God and Neighbor

On True Joy
“Not a Mere Passing State of Soul”
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2011 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The liturgical texts of this period of Advent renew the invitation to us to live in expectation of Jesus and not to cease to await his coming and thus to maintain in us an attitude of openness and availability for the encounter with him. The vigilance of heart that the Christian is always called to exercise in everyday life characterizes this time in which we prepare ourselves with joy for the mystery of Christmas (cf. Advent Preface II). Elsewhere the usual commercial messages are proposed even if perhaps in a diminished way because of the economic crisis. The Christian is invited to live Advent without letting himself get distracted by the lights so that he can fix his interior gaze upon Christ and know how to assign things their proper value. If in fact we remain “vigilant in prayer and exultant in praise” (ibid.), our eyes will be able to recognize in him the true light of the world who comes to illuminate our darkness.

In particular this Sunday’s liturgy, called “Gaudete,” invites us to joy, to a vigilance that is not sorrowful but joyful. “Gaudete in Domino semper,” St. Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4). True joy does not come from diversions, intended in the word’s etymological sense: “di-vertere,” being drawn away from life and from its responsibilities. True joy is linked to something much more profound. Naturally, in the daily round, which is often frenetic, it is important to find moments for rest, for relaxation, but true joy is connected with our relationship to God. Those who have met Jesus in their lives experience a serenity and a joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take away. St. Augustine understood it quite well; in his search for truth, for peace, for joy, after having sought it in vain in many things, he concludes with the celebrated expression according to which man’s heart is restless, does not find serenity and peace, until it finds rest in God (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1). True joy is not a mere passing state of soul, nor something that is achieved by our own power but is a gift; it is born from the encounter with the living person of Jesus, from making space for him in us, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our life. It is the invitation that the Apostle Paul makes, who says: “May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). In this Advent season let us strengthen our certainty that the Lord has come among us and continues to renew his presence of consolation, love and joy. We trust in him; again as St. Augustine says in light of his experience: the Lord is closer to us than we are to ourselves “interior intimo meo et superior summo meo” (Confessions, III, 6, 11).

Let us entrust our journey to the Immaculate Virgin, whose spirit exulted in God the Savior. May she be the one to guide our hearts in the joyous expectation of the coming of Jesus, an expectation that is rich in prayer and good works.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father spoke to the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, today my first greeting is to the children of Rome, who have come for the traditional blessing of the statues of the Christ child that they will place in the crèche. This event was organized by the Centro Oratori Romani. I thank all of you! Dear children, when you pray before your crèche, remember me too as I will remember you. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

[In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, we hear the voice of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, encouraging us to prepare the way of the Lord. Through renewed faith, prayer and penance, may we too become authentic heralds of the Lord’s coming among us at Christmas. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2011 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you. Have a good Sunday. “Gaudete”!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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