Sunday, November 24, 2013

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for the week of November 24, 2013

Catholic Charities. Providing Help. Creating Hope. 

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: Rooted in the Mission of the Diocese of Youngstown "to minister to the people in the six counties of northeastern Ohio . . .(and) to the world community", we are called to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Working to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20) 

On Sunday, (Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe  Some may remember the image on Holy Thursday (Esteves, March 28, 2013;  of Pope Francis, newly elected as our Holy Father, the “Pontifex Maximus” or more accurately the Supreme Pontiff and Prince of the Apostles, visiting a prison -- filled with persons serving time for some crime.  During that visit, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 young persons -- women, Muslims and other Catholics.  Here our Supreme Pontiff encounters those persons -- prisoners --  most of whom society considers guilty and unworthy.  In this place, the Holy Father models the Gospel of John’s discussion of the Last Supper when Jesus abandoned all protocol and washed the feet of his apostles.  Jesus models what it means to be the “Servant of the servants of God” -- another proper title for our Pope.

This was not a new event for this Pope; while Archbishop of Buenos Aires, like many others, he would celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in prisons, shelters or hospitals for the poor and marginalized.  While Pope Francis visited that particular youth prison, he shared with them “to wash your feet, this is a symbol, a sign that I am at your service; but it also means that we have to help each other.” (Glatz, 2013;

Most recently, on October 23, 2013, Pope Francis shared with the National Congress of Italian Prison Chaplains that “you can say this: the Lord is inside with them; he too is a prisoner, again today, prisoner of our egoisms, of our systems, of so many injustices, because it is easy to punish the weakest, but the big fish swim freely in the waters.”  He continued, “no cell is so isolated as to exclude the Lord, none.  He is there, he weeps with them, works with them, waits with them.  His paternal and maternal love reaches everywhere” (Esteves, 2013).  

Why this reflection on prison ministry on the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe that we celebrate today?  The readings present a juxtaposition and ongoing ministry call:  we follow the story of David’s anointing as King of Israel in the first reading; we hear Paul tell the Colossians and us about the universality and power of God’s Kingdom and are reminded that Jesus’ blood on the Cross connects us all in that love.  Finally, in the Gospel from Luke, the story shared for this feast focuses on two fellow condemned prisoners dialoguing with Jesus as they all hang on their crosses in punishment for their respective crimes.  Here we have that witness: Jesus the Lord -- the King, the Son of God-- shedding his blood for us while taking time to encounter others in love and mercy.  Jesus the King modeling, again, that humble servanthood all believers are called to emulate.

Pope Francis reminded those prison chaplains, and all of us involved in criminal justice ministries, that their mission is important and one that brings the “closeness of Christ to those in need of hope.”    On this feast of the King of the Universe, let us pray for our Catholic Charities’ and Caritas’ colleagues who work and volunteer in thousands of prisons, jails and detention centers throughout the world.  As the King of Kings can model such love and concern, we too joyfully continue that ministry to those who are incarcerated in the name of the Church.

What a way to end the liturgical year!

Catholic Charities  ( continues to work with those who are in prison or detained.  Our many priests, deacons, religious and lay persons who visit those in prison each week throughout the six county area of the Diocese bring that face of Jesus to those behind bars.  We are always looking for different persons who want to be volunteers -- doing many different things -- like praying, writing, visiting and advocating with and for those persons and families impacted by crime and violence. Your gift to the  Annual Bishop’s Appeal for Catholic Charities and Church ( enables the Church to reach out and bring God’s love, mercy and compassion to those who call for God’s grace.  Thanks.

Reflection from Church Documents and Official Statements

POPE FRANCIS:  “On the Forgiveness of Sins”

"The Holy Spirit Brings us God's Forgiveness 'Passing Through' Jesus' Wounds"

Vatican City, November 20, 2013 (

Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ continuing catechesis on the Creed from his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last Wednesday I spoke about the forgiveness of sins, referred in a particular way to Baptism. Today we continue with the subject of the forgiveness of sins, but in reference to the so-called “power of the keys,” which is a biblical symbol of the mission that Jesus gave to the Apostles.

First of all we must remember that the protagonist of the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit. In his first apparition to the Apostles, in the Cenacle, the Risen Jesus made the gesture of breathing on them saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). Jesus, transfigured in his body, is now the new man who offers the paschal gifts, fruit of his Death and Resurrection: What are these gifts? Peace, joy, the forgiveness of sin, the mission but above all he gives the Holy Spirit who is the source of all this. Jesus’ breath, accompanied by the words with which he communicates the Spirit, indicates the transmission of life, the new life regenerated by forgiveness.

However before doing the gesture of breathing and giving the Spirit, Jesus shows his wounds, in his hands and on his side: these wounds are the price of our salvation. The Holy Spirit brings us God’s forgiveness “passing through” Jesus’ wounds. These wounds that He wished to preserve: even in this moment He is in Heaven and showing the Father the wounds which have saved us. Through the strength of these wounds, our sins are forgiven:this is how Jesus has given his life for our peace, for our joy, for the gift of the grace in our soul, for the forgiveness of our sins. And it is very beautiful to see Jesus this way!

And we come to the second element: Jesus gives the Apostles the power of forgiving sins; It is a bit difficult to understand how a man can forgive sins, but Jesus gives this power. The Church is depository of the power of the keys,of either opening or closing forgiveness. God forgives every man in His sovereign mercy, but He himself willed that all those who belong to Christ and to his Church, should receive forgiveness through the ministers of the Community. God’s mercy reaches me through the apostolic ministry, my faults are forgiven and joy is given to me. Thus Jesus calls us to live reconciliation also in the ecclesial, communitarian dimension. And this is very beautiful. The Church, which is holy and at the same time needy of penance, accompanies our journey of conversion for the whole of life. The Church is not owner of the power of the keys, she is not owner, but servant of the ministry of mercy and rejoices every time that she can offer this divine gift.

Many persons, perhaps, do not understand the ecclesial dimension of forgiveness, because individualism and subjectivism prevail, and we Christians also resent it. God certainly forgives personally every sinner who is repentant, but the Christian is tied to Christ, and Christ is united to the Church. For us Christians there is another gift, and it is also an added commitment: to pass humbly through the ecclesial ministry. We should value this; it is a gift, a cure, a protection and also a security that God has forgiven me. I go to a brother priest and I say, “Father, I have done this…” And he responds: “But I forgive you; God forgives you.” In that moment, I am sure that God has forgiven me! And this is beautiful, this is having that security that God always forgives us, he does not tire of forgiving. And we should not tire of going to ask forgiveness. It may be embarrassing to tell our sins, but as our mothers and grandmothers would say, it is better to become red (blushed) one time than yellow a thousand times. You become red once, but then we come forgiven of our sins and we go forward.

Finally, a last point: the priest instrument for the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of God which is given to us in the Church, is transmitted to us through the ministry of a brother of ours, the priest; a man, who like us is in need of mercy, becomes truly instrument of mercy, giving us the unbounded love of God the Father ….Yes, as I said earlier, God always listens to you, but in the Sacrament of Reconciliation he sends a brother to bring you forgiveness, the security of forgiveness in the name of the Church.

The service that the priest gives as minister, on behalf of God, to forgive sins is very delicate, a very delicate service, and calls for his heart to be in peace; that he not mistreat the faithful, but that he be meek, benevolent and merciful; that he be able to sow hope in hearts and, above all, that he be aware that the brother or sister who approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation seeks forgiveness and does so as so many people approached Jesus to be healed. For the priest who does not have this disposition of spirit, it is better that, until he corrects himself, he does not administer this Sacrament. Do the penitent faithful have the duty? No! They have the right to find in priests servants of God’s forgiveness.

Dear brothers, as members of the Church, are we aware of this gift that God Himself offers us? Do we feel the joy of this healing, of this maternal care that the Church has for us? Are we able to appreciate it with simplicity and assiduity? Let us not forget that God never tires of forgiving us; through the ministry of the priest He clasps us in a new embrace that regenerates us and enables us to rise again and take up our journey again. Because this is our life: to continually rise up and return on the path. Thank you.

Some important date(s) this week:

See website for biographies of Saints and Blessed celebrated this week.

NOVEMBER IS BLACK CATHOLIC HISTORY MONTH  Visit the DOY webpage for daily reflections/facts.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28  St. James of the Marche (1394-1476)

Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop!

James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances.

James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence.

With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching.

To combat extremely high interest rates, James established montes pietatis(literally, mountains of charity) — nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects.
Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James was canonized in 1726.


James wanted the word of God to take root in the hearts of his listeners. His preaching was directed to preparing the soil, so to speak, by removing any rocks and softening up lives hardened by sin. God’s intention is that his word take root in our lives, but for that we need both prayerful preachers and cooperative listeners.


"Beloved and most holy word of God! You enlighten the hearts of the faithful, you satisfy the hungry, console the afflicted; you make the souls of all productive of good and cause all virtues to blossom; you snatch souls from the devil’s jaw; you make the wretched holy, and men of earth citizens of heaven" (Sermon of St. James).


Catholic Diocese of Youngstown responds to Typhoon Haiyan.

The Office of Social Action, on behalf of Catholic Relief Services, is currently accepting monetary donations for emergency relief and long term development related to the recent devastation experienced in the Philippines and the surrounding region due to Typhoon Haiyan. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) continues to work with local Church and other related institutions to provide emergency shelter, water and sanitation, household relief items (blankets, kitchen items, cookware), potable water and toilets.
To support their work, donate here:

USCCB Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking you to urge your member of the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation that reflects our Catholic values.  You can join the U.S. Catholic Bishops in this effort by sending an electronic postcard to Washington, DC that asks your Representative to pass just and compassionate immigration reform legislation.  We are asking that you consider contacting your Congressional Representative.  The postcard and more information can be found at  You can also write directly to your Congressional Representative by visiting for more information.

A Prayer For The People Of Syria

Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.
O God of hope and Father of mercy,
your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end  the fighting and choose a future of peace.
We pray to the Lord…

[This prayer is adapted from Catholics Confront Global Poverty. . . , a collaborative effort of USCCB and Catholic Relief Services;]

2013 Annual Bishop’s Appeal for Catholic Charities and Church.  

The in Church/parish appeal is now underway.  Please consider a gift to help support the work of Catholic Charities and other ministries of the Diocese of Youngstown

Suffering Priests. That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity.
Latin American Churches. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.

Corporal Works of Mercy:  The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor

  1. Feed the hungry
  2. Give drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Shelter the homeless
  5. Visit the sick
  6. Visit those in prison
  7. Bury the dead

Note: Please consider joining our

for current updates and calls to action that we can all use. 

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.    
For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

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