VOL. 66, NO. 01
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried during a candlelight vigil at the shrine in Fatima, Portugal, Oct. 12. An estimated 300,000 pilgrims converged in Fatima to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd childr en in 1917. A new, modern church was also dedicated at the shrine.
“Be Vigilant like Mary” Nacho Doce, CNS photo
OFFICIAL AVISO His Excellency, the Most Rev. Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM, Cap., D.D., Metropolitan Archbishop of Agana, hereby a nnounces the following appointment Rev. Mr. Larry Claros, Deacon Assistant, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Toto Effective January 1, 2012
“No matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost.” St. Hilary of Poitiers
MANILA — A Catholic bishop urged his flock to place their trust in the maternal guidance of Mary in the face of uncertainties and fear spawned by proliferation of crimes around them. Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, in a pastoral letter, exhorted the faithful to imitate the example of Mary, saying that “God will continue to lavish us with His choicest blessings through the powerful intercessions of Mary, our Mother.” “Like Mary, we are being called to be vigilant lest evil forces overwhelm us. As a popular adage would put it ‘For evil to triumph, it is enough that good men do nothing’,” Garcera said. “She guides and protects us as we tread the treacherous roads of this world that seek to draw us away from Jesus,” the bishop added. Garcera noted that reports of a See SOLEMNITY, Page 3
Message of New Year 2012
isters and Brothers in Christ: As we enter the New Year 2012, let us ask Our Lady, Mary, whose solemnity as Mother of God, we celebrate today, to help us pray for peace, for, she is the Queen of Peace in our lives and in the world. May this New Year 2012 in our Lord Jesus Christ be for all of us a time of Archbishop Anthony grace lived in the aware- Sablan Apuron, O.F.M., ness that our God accom- Cap., D.D. panies us even in difficult and challenging times. Let us pledge that we will do our
best to work together to advance the Kingdom of God in the humblest and greatest of tasks that we will do. Happy New Year!
Mane’lu-hu gi Kristo: Mientras mahahalom hit gi Nuebu na Sakkan 2012, nihi ya ta gagao i Nana-ta, as Santa Maria, I solemne na Nanan Yu;os ni ta silelebra pa’go na ha’ane’, na u ayudea hit manmanayuyot para pas, sa’ guiya i Rainan Pas para I lina’la’-ta yan gi tano’. Ohalara ya este na Anu Nuebu 2012 gi Saina-ta as Jesu Kristo u fama’para hita un tiempon grasia manlala’la’ gi hinasso na gi Yu’os ha akumpaniniha hit kun todu gi manmakkat yan man atburutao na tiempol siha. Nihi ya ta kumiti na ta cho’gue’ I minaolek-ta para ta fan dana’ manmacho’cho’ para ta abansa i Rainon Yu’os gi mas humitdi yan mas dangkulo na cho’cho’ siha ni para ta cho’gue’. Filis Anu Nuebu!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
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Pope: Teaching Dignity to Youth Promotes Peace By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — When young people recognize the dignity and beauty of every human life, including their own, and are supported in their natural desire to make the world a better place, they become agents of justice and peace in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said. Peace and justice are built on "a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity," the pope said in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012. The Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day Jan. 1. The pope's message for the occasion was released Dec. 16 at the Vatican and sent, through Vatican ambassadors, to the leaders of nations around the world. The theme the pope chose for the 2012 celebration was "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace." He asked parents and teachers to be more attentive to the hopes and fears of young people today and to their search for true values, and he asked governments to put more resources into education and job creation. And the pope asked young people themselves to take their schooling seriously and to be open to the
Pope Benedict XVI greets children as he celebrates a Mass to mark the World Day of Peace in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 1. Dario Pignatelli, Reuters, CNS photo
example and knowledge their elders have to share. He asked them "to be patient and persevering in seeking justice and peace, in cultivating the taste for what is just and true, even when it involves sacrifice and swimming against the tide." Adults have a serious responsibility to help the young fulfill their potential, not just by sharing information with them, but by being examples of what it means to live lives marked by the joy of faith, charity and respect for others, he said. "Today more than ever we need authentic witnesses, and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts: We need witnesses capable of
seeing farther than others because their life is so much broader," the pope said. Educating people in justice and peace begins in the family, where they learn to value the gift of life, solidarity, respect for rules, forgiveness and hospitality, he said. Too many young people today are missing that basic human formation because "we are living in a world where families, and life itself, are constantly threatened and not infrequently fragmented," he said. Pope Benedict appealed to parents to give their children "the most precious of treasures," which is the gift of their time. The pope also urged govern-
ments to make it possible for parents to choose the type of education they want their children to receive and to enact immigration reforms aimed at "reuniting families separated by the need to earn a living." Presenting the message at a Vatican news conference, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the pope's message highlights the fact that he sees young people not only as hope for the future, but as "an active part, the most vital part of the human family" in a world that needs energy and new ideas now. Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the justice and peace council, said the young people who energized the Arab Spring movements toward democracy this year illustrate the fact that the young have a positive role to play in society today. They proclaimed to the world that "there can be social justice in their societies if there is democracy and, vice versa, that if there is democracy, there can be social justice," he said. The heart of the pope's message focused on what he called the "integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension." "Man is a being who bears within his heart a thirst for truth — a truth which is not partial, but capable of explaining life's meaning — since he was created in the image and likeness of God," the pope wrote in his message. Acknowledging God as creator leads to recognizing "one's own profound dignity and the inviolability of every single person," Pope Benedict said. Based on that dignity, people come to understand that there are certain things that always are either right or wrong, he said. "Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law that he did not lay upon himself, but which he must obey. Its voice calls him to love and do what is good, to avoid evil and to take responsibility for the good he does and the evil he commits," the pope said. Pope Benedict said peace is not simply a gift to be received from God, it is a task people of good will must undertake. "In order to be true peacemakers, we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, in being active within the community and concerned to raise awareness about national and international issues and the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution," he said. (CNS)
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Sunday, January 1, 2012 PHILIPPINES
Churches overflow this year in the largest Christmas celebrations in Nepal’s history
Mindanao: Outpouring of Solidarity for flood Victims Zamboanga - "The flooding in northern Mindanao, which cost more than 1400 lives, has helped Filipinos rediscover the importance of Christmas, prayer and gratitude. In the parishes of the island, rich and poor have donated food, clothes and money to be sent to the various centers for refugees in Cagayan de Oro and Illigan City. On Christmas Eve children and young people in refugee camps sung for the devastated city, bringing a sign of hope and joy to those who like them have lost everything. "This is what, Fr Giulio Mariani, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Zamboanga tells AsiaNews. He stresses that where no help has arrived so far, individuals have organized collections of clean water, food and medicine. "To help the
Solemnity CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 number of crimes committed within the province have been spreading in the past months sowing fear in people. “Some of us must have experienced personally these crimes that disturbed our peace and our sense of security in the province of Camarines Norte,” he said. The province has recently had a spate of robbery and murder targeting business establishments and businessmen. Mining sites in the province particularly in the towns of Paracale, Jose Panganiban and Labo had also its share of violence and killing. Garcera urged the people to do their share “in working for peace in our province and in our country by being pro-active.” “Let us join hands with our local government and the different law enforcement agencies in driving away the dark clouds of evil from our midst so that justice and peace will reign once more in our locality,” he said. “It seems that ours is a time that is constantly buffeted by the stormy winds of greed, violence and the unbridled quest for riches and power,” the bishop added.
flood victims - he says - the population has also saved on lights, decorations and fireworks. The pastors have asked everyone, especially the younger ones not to buy fireworks, but to light a candle for the victims and to make donations for the survivors. " Since the passage of Typhoon Washi last December 16, many villages remain isolated and there are more than 700 thousand people hosted in temporary shelters. The Coast Guard continues search for missing at sea in the coming days and warned that the death toll could rise, surpassing the 1400 deaths. Today, the government has launched a new weather warning for the islands of Mindanao, Luzon and the Visayas archipelago. (AsiaNews) The pastoral letter, released in time for the celebration of the Solemnity of Mary on January 1 and the World Day of Peace reiterates a previous papal message to ask Mary’s intercession for peace, especially where violence is rampant. Garcera said the Filipinos’ devotion to Mary has reaped numerous benefits on the people. He said this devotion is also manifest in the local Church of Daet, saying that the Vatican approval of the canonical coronation of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria during the closing ceremonies of the quadricentennial celebrations of the diocese’s first three parishes was in itself a distinctive gift that highlights the people’s love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. As the diocese aims to accomplish two events for 2012 to revitalize the spiritual life of the faithful, Garcera hopes that the said occasions “will bring us closer to God’s plan for us.” The diocese will celebrate in 2012 the Year on Liturgy which aims to bring the faithful to worship God “with more dignity and solemnity.” Another event is the reorganization of the Parish Pastoral Councils and the Parish Finance Councils “to become more effective and efficient in responding to the peculiar needs and challenges of the present times.” (CBCPNews)
Kathmandu – This year’s Christmas celebrations were the largest in the country’s history, Christian leaders said. Thousands of nonChristians attended Mass in the country’s Catholic and Protestant churches. A crowd of more than 2,000 people came to Mass at Assumption Cathedral in Lalitpur District, Mgr Anthony Sharma, bishop of Kathmandu, said. The building was the target of a terrorist attack some time ago. Although the building can only hold up to 1,000 people, many followed the service outside, the prelate said. Security guards were forced to keep the doors open; they had been kept closed in recent years because of the danger of attacks. “We should all look up to Heaven and follow Him who sacrificed His life for humanity,” the prelate said in his sermon, which he delivered to hundreds of non-Christians. In his address, he also encouraged members of various confessions to work for peace. Thousands of people also attended the Mass organised by Kathmandu’s Protestant community. Narayan Sharma, bishop of the Protestant Gyaneshwor Church, said the building was overflowing with worshippers. Christmas Eve events also saw large participation in central Kathmandu. Since the fall of the Hindu monarchy in 2006, the government has
A crowd of more than 2,000 people attended the Mass at Assumption Cathedral in Lalitpur District. AsiaNews photo decided to boost tourism by making Christmas a national holiday. Greater security has allowed Christians to celebrate Mass in public and display their sacred images and decorations outside of churches, stores and homes. The country’s Catholic community now stands at 10,000, up from 6,000 in 2006, when state and religion were formally separated in Nepal. In order to entertain tourists who came to Kathmandu for Christmas, local authorities orga-
nized non-religious events, such as Christmas concerts, gifts for children, songs and dances. Nishant Shrestha, marketing chief in one of the capital’s main commercial malls, said he was surprised by the way Hindus celebrated Christmas. “This is sign that Christians are rapidly growing in the country,” he noted. “It is nice to see people share the values of peace and harmony, which are the symbols of the Christian celebration.” (AsiaNews)
CHURCH & SOCIETY
4 ITE MISSA EST
From the Mass to the Market: Engaging the world beyond the church doors
Random Thoughts on the Eve of 2012
By Tim Rohr
The World Scene Notwithstanding the eschatological predictions of the Mayan calendar, 2012 bodes ominously ahead, nonetheless. The battle for the office of the U.S. presidency promises to be one of the meanest fights ever. The North Korean situation is volcanically unstable and is ramping up to be a 21st century version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Iran is apparently on a divine mission to pull its nuclear trigger and hasten the “end of days”. The U.S. supported “Arab Spring” is backfiring badly causing the world’s most volatile region to become even more volatile with Christian blood soaking the region anew. Europe is simply collapsing under the weight of a comically unsustainable economic model that the current U.S. administration seems determined to emulate. The planet’s most populous country and mighty crusher of human rights is poised to dominate the world both economically and militarily. And amidst all this, the U.S. “fiddles”. Maybe the Mayans were on to something.
Supreme Decisions The current ideological complexion of the nation’s highest court has probably never been more precariously balanced. Of the nine justices, four are dependably liberal, four are conservative, with the ninth, Anthony Kennedy, an unpredictable “swinger”. Two justices, Ginsburg and Breyer, solid liberals, are expected to retire during the next administration meaning whoever is president will choose their replacements. An Obama presidency will simply give us more of the same while a Republican would likely weight the court to the “right”. With the re-definition of marriage and a challenge to Roe v. Wade possibly in the judicial offing, the 2012 presidential election is about much more than the economy, at least for those who still call themselves Catholic.
And speaking of enthusiasm, I was recently visited by three young members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was dark and my home is in a rural area. It is also quite a distance from the main road and they had to get by several man-eating dogs to get to me. Impressed with their courage, I spoke with the young man who was the apparent leader. He was from Utah, in his early twenties, was inspired by his older brother to go on a mission, and had been sent to Guam eight months ago. I am fairly skilled at engaging challenges to the Catholic Faith, but I have to say that I had to work hard at responding to the young man’s case for the Mormon religion. The encounter made me wonder what great things we could accomplish for our own Church if we prepared our youth to do what Mormon youth do.
Sunday Best While waiting for my daughter to get something from the local market a few Sundays ago, I happened to see, across the street from where I was parked, a young family exit their car and prepare to enter the converted gas station that was their church. The man had on a coat and tie and the woman, a nice dress. Their little girl also wore a dress and the little boy, a coat and tie like his dad. From the looks of things, one could easily assume that the nice clothes they had on might have been the only nice clothes they owned. And while they may have had only an abandoned gas station in which to worship, they were, nevertheless, dressed to “see the King”. The contrast was disturbing. We Catholics, who worship in the finest buildings and receive the King Himself in the Flesh, often dress like we’re going to an abandoned gas station.
The Christmas Devil
We should not be surprised at the annual Christmas visit of the demonic triplets: Depression, Despair, and Despondency. The birth of Christ meant the beginning of the end of Satan’s dominion as Prince of the World. It is no surprise that the Evil One would want to ruin the annual party. We should expect the Father of Hate and Despair to exploit the gulf between our warm, worldImpressive ly “Christmasy” expectations and There is a new Kingdom Hall the dark aloneness that inevitably (Jehovah Witness) being built just haunts us as we grow older. Neverdown the road from my home. From theless, “let nothing you dismay.” what I can tell the church members Let us gird our loins, toast the end themselves are providing the labor. Satan’s power, and sing tidings of Women and men of all ages, shapes comfort and joy, comfort and joy! This column reflects only the and sizes are out there in hard hats, setting forms, tying rebar, and pour- views of the author and does not necing concrete. You can feel the enthu- essarily reflect the views of the staff siasm for the project just driving by. and management of the Umatuna. It made me think of how Catholics Hyperlinks to supporting data can be once built their own churches and found on the online version at www. themassneverends.com schools. Hmmm.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
The Best is Yet to Come! By Deacon Steve Martinez On the Feast of St. Stephen, a fullness of joy rushed through me — joy I had not felt in a while. My wife loves to shop! Unfortunately, I do not. On every occasion possible, I avoid the opportunity to travel to the stores with my wife… I would actually rather mow the yard, really! I guess it is true what they say, opposites do attract. In many past Christmas seasons I successfully avoided the shopping adventures altogether, relying solely on my wife’s prodigious shopping skills. This year, however, on Thanksgiving day I saw an ad for something that I really wanted, and it
was on sale for a price I could almost afford. The ad said the price was effective starting on Thursday, November 24, so I went to the store, only to find it closed. But a big sign at the main entrance said the store would open at 5AM on Friday. So I did the unthinkable … I ventured out to shop on Black Friday, arriving at the store at 5:15AM, with my wife alongside me for support and expert advice. The store was absolutely mobbed, and the one item I really wanted was already sold out. Maybe I was asleep and having a nightmare. No, when a cart crashed into my shin, I knew that this was no dream. (Note to file: that is why I have refused to go out on Black Friday’s in years past, don’t forget this
experience come November 2012!) Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy both receiving and giving of gifts during the Christmas season. I just abhor the process of shopping to acquire the gifts to be given. And that doesn’t even address the burden of filtering through a multitude of ads in the paper to find any real news. It is a very traumatic process of preparation for Christmas. I firmly believe that even semi-professional gatherers like my wife find it stressful to compete against the constant throng of bargain hunting shoppers. I even find it taxing to listen to the epic tales of no parking spaces, narrow aisles filled with shopping carts and stuff nobody See CHRISTMAS Page 5
CHURCH & SOCIETY
Sunday, January 1, 2012
N.J. Nurses Don't Have to Assist in Abortion in New Hospital Agreement NEWARK, N.J. — A group of 12 nurses who sued the University Hospital in Newark over a policy requiring them to care for patients before and after abortions can no longer be compelled to assist in these procedures, under an agreement reached in federal court. The nurses in the same-day surgery unit of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey can remain in their current jobs and will only be required to help patients with abortions in a life-threatening emergency when no other nonobjecting staff members are available and only until someone can be brought in to relieve them, according to the Dec. 22 agreement. U.S. District Judge Jose Linares, who mediated the agreement, said the nurses would be allowed to remain in the unit and would not be discriminated against because of their stance on abortion. He declined to rule on how the hospital would configure its nursing staff, calling that a contract issue.
‘No pro-life medical personnel should be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions. The hospital has finally done the right thing in agreeing to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs.’ Matt Bowman
Legal counsel for the Allied Defense Fund
Linares will retain jurisdiction over the case to rule on its enforcement or any disputes that arise because of it. The Associated Press reported that the judge praised both sides for reaching an agreement on a case that was not an easy one to resolve since it concerned a highly emotional issue and the complexities of a hospital's obligations to its patients. The group of nurses filed suit against the hospital Oct. 31, a month after they had been notified in writing that the hospital's new policy would require same-day surgery unit nurses to assist in abortions. One nurse said the policy confronted them with a "choice between our faith and our jobs."
Linares issued a temporary restraining order Nov. 3 directing the hospital not to compel adherence to the new policy until after the case came before his court. In a mid-November news conference outside the hospital, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., joined the nurses and their attorneys in criticizing the new policy. Smith praised the agreement in a Dec. 22 statement, saying the hospital had "finally agreed" to respect the nurses' rights. "The nurses may continue to provide compassionate life-affirming care without being complicit in the destruction of innocent human life," he added. A statement issued by the hospital said the agreement meets the interests of its patients while respecting the beliefs of its nurses. In a brief filed with the court Nov. 22, the hospital argued that the nurses were being required only to provide "the same routine pre-operative and post-operative care that is provided to all patients" in the unit, such as taking the patients' vital signs and medical history and providing pain medications. The hospital also said it would cost approximately $280,000 a year to hire nurses to perform the duties refused by the objecting nurses. "In the current economy, incurring such an unnecessary expense ... would be devastating to the hospital," the brief said. Matt Bowman, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian legal alliance that is representing the nurses, said the hospital's policy requiring its nurses to assist patients getting abortions amounted to job discrimination. He said he was pleased with the hospital's agreement, adding, "No pro-life medical personnel should be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions. The hospital has finally done the right thing in agreeing to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs." Smith, who co-chairs the Congressional Pro-life Caucus, said the hospital now bears the responsibility to make sure that "respect for conscience is implemented through a hospitalwide policy without nuance, loopholes, ambiguity or small print." "A durable, transparent and effective means of monitoring compliance with federally protected conscience rights must be put in place," he said, to ensure that no one at the hospital is "subjected to any discrimination or retaliated against now or at any time in the future." (CNS)
us … in our humanity! I love Christmas decorations, of all types. Religious displays, Christmas trees, Santa CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 themes, and brightly colored lights. As you might have already guessed, I am one of those wants, and pricing errors at the register. Now back to December 26… The great joy neighbors who keep the Christmas decoraI felt was in realizing that for another 335 days tions up as long as possible. All of ours will stay up and lit through the feast of the Epiphor so, this shopping horror was put on hold. It any of the Lord on January 8. And of course, was now time to just enjoy Christmas for what I will happily greet all I meet with a “Merry it is. The kids are home from school and we Christmas”. Some may look at me odd, but can spend more time with them. We call famithat’s ok, it is still Christmas after all. lies off-island to laugh and catch up on things. Freed from the bondage of shopping, ads, Attending the beautiful celebration of mid- and parking lot mayhem, I love these next 12 night mass at the Cathedral. Tomorrow the days more than any other of the year. It is truArchbishop has his annual Christmas party for ly a time for great joy and celebration. Glory the clergy, religious, and seminarians. And of to God in the highest, and peace to all people course, contemplating in utter awe upon the of good will. real reason for the season … God loves us so Merry Christmas to all! I hope you will enmuch that He has chosen to come and be with joy these next few weeks as much as I do.
FAMAGU’ON Yan MANHOBEN
Puzzles & Games WORD SEARCH
Find all the words hiddin within the puzzle. Words are placed diagonal, forward, backward, up and down.
T H E O T O K O S C V K G U V
THEME Mother of God ALELAH ASTVADZATZIN BOGORODITSA BOGORODITZA GHVTISMSHOBELI GODBEARER MOTHEROFGOD THEOTOKOS TITHEOTOKÓS WALIDAT YOLDATHALOHO
Y O L D A T H A L O H O H O T
Y R X V J A F F L V S A D A Z T V A K D Z V A T F T T R X C V T O R Y T A I S U B A O E Q U H A V T I S I G O D G B D O
J B A I V S I I S O Q L M B M
E D W C R T A Y U N L H R I G D O R O G I Y R T S A O Z O M D D K L Q F O Z V V T K H A X D B W K T B P J Y Z E L A M B S H O B E E A R E R P E Q W T
A O W O D U N K U Q Z N L X C
B Z Q B T R O Q R M K I I E W
D O G F O R E H T O M Z N E E
Fill the empty cells so that each column, each row, and each of the 3x3 regions contains all of the digits from 1 to 9. TIPS No region can contain any duplicate digits. There is only one solution to a Sudoku puzzle. Use a pencil.
Last Week’s Solution 7
3 8 2
6 8 1
4 7 5
6 9 1
2 6 7
5 6 2
8 9 1
7 9 6
8 5 4
5 3 6
8 1 2 3 6 5 3 6 5 4 9 7
7 4 9 1 2 8
9 4 7
9 3 2
3 5 9 4
The sentence below is encrypted using a secret code. Your job is to break the code by substituting the correct letter for the ones given. Each letter given in the code always represents the same letter throughout the puzzle. HINTS
RYE GRYQ YRKUSYT THRLL ISGW RYE TRQ: ”ISGW, RYE LWK JT MS JB KS KHW GSJYKRUY SC KHW LSFE, RYE KS KHW HSJTW SC KHW MSE SC VRISP. RYE HW DULL KWRIH JT SC HUT DRQT, RYE DW DULL DRLN UY HUT BRKHT.”
Last Week’s Solution
“For the Lord is better than life: my lips shall speak your praise.” (Psalm 63)
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Sunday, January 1, 2012
THE LIFE OF FAITH
Keep A Happy Spirit
person who has a happy spirit doesn’t easily get tired and is always disposed to do good. It’s like a power house that supplies electricity to illumine the whole village when darkness sets in and where people can enjoy life and not bump into something that may hurt them but may see clearly the path they are going through. A person who has a happy spirit is friendly, nice to talk to, can easily blend with people around be Fr. Joel De Los Reyes Divine Mercy Moments it in conversation or at work. He or she is like a perfume whose fragrance can’t bee seen but delights the senses and fills the air with sweetness and pleasure. I had been invited to elaborate gatherings honoring birthday celebrants with absolute surprise parties in premier hotels on Guam tendered by friends, work associates, families and loved ones. Those occasions were lavished with sumptuous food and exquisite preparations and the ambiance was so enchanting and full of fun. I was so impressed by the pomposity of the occasion but more so on the happy spirit the celebrants possess not only during the celebrations but everyday of their lives. It is the core of their character and definition of their pleasant personality. The main theme flaunting around in conversations among guests captured by my sensitive ears was the honorees virtues of friendliness, love, generosity and kindness. These qualities are mainstays of happy and fulfilled life. Do you possess these qualities? Honestly ask
yourself. We have been created for a greater purpose and so we should never allow ourselves to fall into things that remove the kindness and mercy from our hearts. Sometimes we find ourselves in a casual and informal conversation with people, sharing and exchanging pleasantries and ideas and you would notice that friendship and camaraderie are spontaneously established if the flow of our words evoke constructive and positive conversational elements. They say that blessings flow where there is compassion and charity, and life is exciting with hope where hearts are connected and united. Don’t get stuck at things that ruin your day but “let go of what kills you and hold on to what keeps you breathing” (Spongebob). When things go wrong with us, we think about them day and night often depriving us of sleep and disturbing our peace. Better not mind the things that depress us because they only make you weak inside and out. You must remember that that there are a lot of things you can give your time into. Think of people who love and support you because they o utnumber those who oppose and undermine you. Have a happy spirit towards people even in their tiniest achievements, for a heart that is open to appreciate every blessing would always be bigger than the eyes that see what is missing. Let our blessings be the reason to celebrate life and may those missing serve as inspiration and challenge to strive and to work for a life that never stops to get better. This coming New Year include a Happy Spirit in your resolutions for nothing contributes more to happiness than the habit of looking at the good side of things. Amen on that folks and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
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I’m Just Saying:
Fabio and the End of the World
By Jeffrey L. Fitzgerald
I thought we might start the new year off by talking about something monumentally stupid: astrology. For the record, I’m a Pisces. More importantly, the facticity of the date of my birth has absolutely nothing to do with anything meaningful. It simply means that I was born on the same day of the year as the TV preacher Jimmy Swaggart, bassist Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, and 80s rocker Bret Michaels of the hair band Poison. In illustration of our collective greatness and wisdom due to being born on the Ides of March, Bret and I suggested that we all get together a few years ago to pick our spokesman. The result: we elected Fabio as our official representative since he was the only one of us born on that day who was good looking enough to ensure the survival of the species— at least a decent-looking species. It was a weird day of voting. At first, I thought Andrew Jackson had it in the bag with that Romantic pose he has. He’s a little bit of a hot-head, but he’s the only one of us on money. But then Caitlin Wachs and Eva Longoria banded together, Fabio was elected, and that, as they say, is that. As a side note, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg decided to cast her ballot for rapper Will.i.am. Funny, but I didn’t see that one coming. Personally, I think Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider would have been a cool choice. Then again, I used to own a Members
Only jacket and once tried to learn to play the harmonica, so I should probably just shut up about it and just let it go. What’s done is done. Anyway, I mention all this because astrology is so nonsensical that I am simply amazed that some poor souls believe in it. Besides the fact that anything related to the occult is definitely not from the Lord and is profoundly dangerous to both soul and body, astrology just doesn’t make any sense. Do you really expect me to believe that the position of the moon at the second of my birth determines my emotional outlook for the rest of my life? Really? So why do people believe in astrology? More accurately, why do they WANT to believe in it? I think it’s that it gives an explanation for things in a world that sometimes somehow defies explanation. It’s the same reason people wanted so desperately to believe in that whole Y2K debacle. Towards the end of 1999 when I first started teaching, my students in San Antonio kept peppering me with questions like, “Mr. Fitz, do you believe in Y2K?” Me: “What…like the existence of the year?” Student: “No, I mean that the world is going to end.” Me: “Boy, are you on crack or something?” On the one hand, people were scared of what could happen, but at the same time they wanted it to happen. This is what I like to call the “Boy, I sure hope things turn out bad!” phenomenon. Hypochondriacs and crazy girlfriends
have this mindset down cold. For that matter, so do politicians without real power. I’m just saying. And speaking of girls who were friends, I once knew a young lady we’ll just call “Spooky Girl #62” who had a mother ever crazier than she was. The mom once asked me about how I was preparing for Y2K. I responded with something along the lines of “With a case of beer and a Rosary.” In other words, it’s just another New Year’s Eve. Bekki (the mom who is quite beyond the definition of the word “crazy”) told me that she had bought 20 gallons of drinking water, 20 bottles of cooking oil, and cases upon cases of refried beans. She then told me that she was going to duct tape every window and every doorway so that absolutely no air could come in or out of the house—presumably as a precaution against nuclear winter. When I told her that if she followed through with this nutty plan that she would suffocate in a few hours, she simply told me, “Yeah, but I can keep out the Y2K!” Ummm… words fail me here. Keep out the Y2K? You would think she was preparing for a zombie invasion. So now that we are in 2012, I have a feeling that the more feeble-minded of our neighbors might just fall into this same trap. As everyone who has not been living under a rock rightly knows, the Mayan calendar predicts some “new era” to begin at the winter solstice in 2012 (about December 21). At least that’s what the History Channel says, and we all
know that if it’s on the History Channel, then it must be true. That was sarcasm, by the way. It’s not that I don’t believe in the whole 2012 farce. It’s that I don’t really care. Scripture tells us that no one knows the day nor the hour of the Coming of the Lord, and I have serious doubts that some pagan civilization nailed it centuries and centuries ago. Besides, the Second Coming is a good thing. As in THE Good Thing. It’s the Eschaton—the fulfillment of history, when all will be changed, and every tear wiped away. No more hunger, no more suffering. Best of all, no more sin. Death is cast into the fire, and things become as they should be: Man is complete, and God dwells with him. This is indeed our new year. A time of resolutions, to be sure, but more importantly it is a time of renewal. I try to learn a new language each year, and German is the top contender (although Korean seems intent on becoming my new hobby). I’ll try to finish my book, and work on a new translation of sections of Aquinas not yet translated. Best of all, I’ll look to a fuller vocation within the Church. I don’t know if I’m a good candidate, nor do I know what challenges I’m really up for. But what I do know is that the stars and planets have absolutely nothing to do with it. I figure God has got things pretty much covered.