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Dom_Helder_CamaraEarlier this week, the Vatican opened the cause for the canonization of Dom Helder Camara, the “bishop of the poor” and one of the most influential Latin American church leaders of the twentieth century.
 
I never met an archbishop who was smaller in stature than me. However, his smallness of height was no indication of the influence of his soul and life. He was almost 70 but seemed older with a wizened brown face, battered by years of exposure to the harsh sun of drought-ravaged Brazil. I remember, above all, his gentleness and his concern for everything in the world around him, including animals and plants (which had earned him the nickname of St. Francis).
 
It was the early 80s; I was pastoral associate at St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn, N.Y. Dom Helder had been nominated four times for the Noble Peace Prize, but it was never awarded to him. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, Riverside Church in Manhattan recognized his greatness and invited him speak at an evening of prayer during a major disarmament conference. I had the good fortune to be his host for the weekend. No fancy hotels; no special meals. He drank tea, and he ate bread and vegetables.
In 1959 Dom Helder was appointed archbishop of Olinda e Recife, a very poor diocese in Northeastern Brazil. He rejected the pomp and ceremony of his rank. He always wore a battered brown cassock, adorned only by a simple wooden cross. This was what he wore that weekend to Riverside Church. For me, one who is so concerned about appearances and wardrobe, this was a reminder of what is important.
 
Dom Helder also refused to live in the archbishop’s house! “I’m not one of those evil elitist Church-people you know. The poor are at the center of MY Gospel,” he said. He lived in a small, three-room house behind the sacristy of the cathedral. During his tenure, he was informally called the “bishop of the slums” for his clear position on the side of the urban poor. He encouraged peasants to think beyond their conventionally fatalistic outlook by studying the Gospels in small groups and asking what conclusions could be drawn for social change. He was active in the formation of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference in 1952, and he served as its first general secretary until 1964. In 1959 he founded Banco da Providência in Rio de Janeiro, a philanthropic organization to fight poverty and social injustice by making it easier for poor people to receive loans.
 
Dom Helder Camara founded a seminary where the formation of the priest candidates in social action was as important as formation in theology.
 
When we arrived at Riverside, the church with its two balconies, which seats 1900, was jammed. After bringing Dom Helder to the sacristy, I squeezed into a spot in the balcony. The music was glorious; the procession included 25-foot-high puppets mocking armaments as a way to peace. High-ranking clerics from all over the world processed into the church, the colors and designs of the vestments were astounding. As Dom Helder entered the nave the congregation stood and applauded for what seemed to be a solid twenty minutes. Tears ran down my cheeks. I recall that as he spoke that evening he made a statement that has often been quoted since: “When I feed the hungry they call me saint. When I ask why they are hungry they call me a communist.”
 
Camara attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council and was instrumental in developing the document The Church in the Modern World (Lumen Gentium). Perhaps Camara’s greatest achievement was to help organize the historic meeting of CELAM (Consejo Episcopal Latinoamerican or the Latin American Episcopal Conference) in Medellin in Colombia in 1968. In a decisive break with their old role of supporting the rich and the powerful, the bishops declared a “preferential option for the poor,” openly identifying themselves with the excluded and the exploited. It was an important victory for the progressive wing of the Church, which at that time was enthused with the ideas of liberation theology sweeping through the continent, particularly Brazil.
 
Will people call Oscar Romero, a martyr for the faith who will be beatified this month in El Salvador; Dom Helder Camara of Brazil; and Pope Francis of Argentina and Rome communists because they actually love the poor?
 
You can read more about Dom Helder Camara in his downloadable book, The Spiral of Violence.
 
Sister Honora is the Assistant Director at RENEW and a Dominican Sister of Amityville, NY.

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Where once there was a place of torture and torment there now lies a very peaceful area in Auriesville, New York—a holy spot dedicated to the saints who once roamed there. In fact, this holy place not only contains the resting grounds of many North American martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the salvation of souls but is also the birthplace of Native American St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
 
In midsummer of 2011, I was able to make a pilgrimage to this location. It was a very special time for me, because I was preparing to be confirmed in the Catholic Church; because of this, my confirmation sponsor suggested we take a holy trip. I was twenty years old when I made the trek up to Auriesville. Never having made a pilgrimage before, I had no idea what to expect, but I had a great devotion to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and I was more than excited to see her birthplace.
 
That area in upstate New York is absolutely breath-taking and beautiful. Surrounded by rolling hills and wide-open spaces, you can’t help but feel at peace. Even when I walked what used to be the gauntlet, where many people, including the North American martyrs, were beaten and tortured, I still felt peace. I knew their suffering wasn’t in vain. Throughout the trip I felt St. Kateri’s presence all around me.
 
St. Kateri Tekakwitha always captivated me. She is known as the Lily of the Mohawks because of her virginal purity but also because she tried to evangelize people in her Mohawk village. Even though she wasn’t officially catechized, she connected to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary at a very young age. The Jesuits had visited her village and tried to teach the Native Americans about Jesus. To do this the missionaries began learning the native language and would often refer to the faith in terms and signs that were relevant to the Native Americans. Many parallels between the Catholic faith and North American tradition started to become clear, and the Jesuits were even able to translate the Lord’s Prayer into the language of the Mohawks. However, Mohicans intruded on Kateri’s village and, as a result, the Jesuit missionaries were captured and killed, along with the chiefs of the tribe.
 
Kateri faced many difficulties, not just with the attacks from other tribes, but also from disease. She suffered from a bout of smallpox that left her face scarred and almost blinded her. This disease killed her parents, leaving Kateri orphaned. However, she did not suffer in vain; she would offer up her pain and sickness for the conversion of those around her. She would even sleep with thorns in her bed as corporal mortification for the conversion of souls.
 
Even though Kateri never really studied the faith, her heart was completely invested in the mission of Jesus. She remained pure of heart, even when she was forced to marry, and steadfast in her attempts toward the salvation of others. She chose to be baptized against the wishes of many of her friends and family. At twenty-four, I am now the age at which she died after a long period of declining health; it is worth mentioning that at the time of her death the scars on her face were cleared and some say she was glowing. St. Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized as the first Native American saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012.
 
When I was later able to spend a week for a mission trip with the the Native Americans of the Turtle Clan in North Dakota (Kateri was thought to be from this clan), my love and devotion for St. Kateri grew even more. Their Catholic identity is so great on that mountain in North Dakota, that I can’t help but think it is a result of the hard work, sacrifice, and prayers made by St. Kateri and the North American martyrs. They paved the way for our faith in America and we must not forget their sacrifices.
 
St. Kateri was young when she died, but she lived her life selflessly for others. As Catholics, both young and old, we can take St. Kateri’s example and apply it to our own lives. It’s never too late to start living for others, and especially for Christ. Let us follow St. Kateri’s example of faith, hope, and charity. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us!
 
Callie Kowalski is a member of RENEW’s marketing and communications team and directs its young adult programs.

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Parte I: ¿Cuál es su novedad?
 
El pasado 11 de octubre de 2012, la Iglesia Católica, junto con las Iglesias cristianas históricas, iniciaba –gracias a la iniciativa del Papa Benedicto XVI–, la celebración del Año de la Fe. Su propósito era conmemorar el quincuagésimo aniversario del inicio del Concilio Vaticano II convocado por el Papa Juan XXIII, nacido Angelo Roncalli, declarado beato y modelo para el cristiano por el Papa Juan Pablo II en el año 2000.
 
El Vaticano II nace bajo el amparo de tres grandes protagonistas:
a. Sin duda, el Papa Juan XXIII, quien con apenas tres meses en su servicio como Obispo de Roma, expresa su deseo, convoca y comienza a trabajar a toda máquina.
b. Un movimiento de renovación eclesial interna que viene gestándose entre las Guerras Mundiales, luego de la I y consolidando al finalizar la II, bajo el pontificado del Papa Pío XII. Este movimiento, del que Juan XXIII fue fiel testigo, reclamaba una presencia renovada de la Iglesia en todos los ámbitos: el universitario-académico, el ecuménico, el pastoral y la sociedad civil.
c. El Espíritu Santo, que jamás cesa de actuar y de trabajar en la Iglesia, como fiel testigo de la presencia perenne de Dios entre nosotros y como fiel promesa de Jesús a sus discípulos.
 
La convocatoria para el Concilio Vaticano II se emitió el 25 de enero de 1959, significativo día si consideramos la fiesta litúrgica que celebramos: la conversión de San Pablo.
 
A diferencia de muchos otros concilios, el Vaticano II no nace como respuesta y en reacción a una herejía o apostasía. Al contrario, quiere responder más bien a la necesidad de un aggiornamento de la Iglesia, en las palabras del mismo Juan XXIII. El término se refiere a la renovación, apertura, diálogo, adaptación, hermenéutica consciente y crítica de la Iglesia. Juan XXIII escoge sabiamente este término, utilizando la suavidad de la lengua italiana, y al mismo tiempo el dinamismo que impone el verbo aggiornare, que implica constante movimiento. Así, evitando cualquier referencia a la palabra “reforma”, y con ella cualquier alusión a los acontecimientos vividos en el siglo XVI, Juan XXIII abre, sin duda, una nueva etapa en la historia de la Iglesia Católica y, definitivamente, en la teología cristiana en general, pues el fenómeno del Vaticano II afectó también a las Iglesias históricas cristianas.
 
¿Cuáles era los objetivos principales del Vaticano II en la mente de Juan XXIII? Según él mismo lo expresa en su alocución de la convocatoria, estos serían dos:
• La apertura de la Iglesia al mundo moderno y a la sociedad, escrutando “los signos de los tiempos”, con el objetivo de hacer inteligible el anuncio del Evangelio.
• La unidad de los cristianos o presencia activa de la Iglesia en el ecumenismo.
Un mes antes del inicio del Concilio, Juan XXIII añadió otro objetivo:
• Ser la Iglesia de los pobres, en estricta fidelidad al Evangelio. Esta tesis fue defendida por el Cardenal Lercaro en una de sus intervenciones en el Concilio: “La Iglesia se presenta, como es y como quiere ser, como Iglesia de todos, en particular como la Iglesia de los pobres”.
 
Fue el Cardenal Juan Bautista Montini, sucesor de Juan XXIII y a quien conoceremos como Pablo VI, declarado Venerable por Benedicto XVI el pasado 14 de diciembre de 2012, quien le dió forma y cuerpo a los objetivos de este Concilio. En su intervención en la Asamblea Conciliar, propuso tres metas:
• Profundización de la naturaleza y renovación interna de la Iglesia.
• Diálogo de la Iglesia con el mundo.
• Reunión de los cristianos separados.
 
Estas tres metas se convirtieron a lo largo del proceso del Concilio, que duró tres años (1962-1965), en los tres motores de reflexión y cuyo resultado vemos en sendos y completos documentos, ya sean “Constituciones” (que implican carácter de ley y por lo tanto obligan), o “Decretos” (que abres el diálogo para la reflexión teológica y el desarrollo pastoral-práctico-jurídico). Así, respectivamente y en relación con las tres propuestas por el Cardenal Montini:
• Constitución dogmática sobre la Iglesia Lumen gentium (documento fundamental del Vaticano II y que desarrollaremos en otro artículo).
• Constitución pastoral Gaudium et spes sobre la Iglesia en el mundo actual (documento e instrumento de reflexión pastoral fundamental que desarrollaremos en otro artículo dada su importancia para toda la Iglesia y, de manera particular, para todos los países del Hemisferio Sur).
• Declaración Unitatis redintegratio sobre el ecumenismo.

El Vaticano II ha legado a la Iglesia Católica y a todos los cristianos un mensaje claro: leer los signos de los tiempos para que desde allí, y a la luz del Espíritu Santo, podamos discernir la presencia o ausencia de Dios y actuar en consecuencia, tal como dos mil años atrás la comunidad apostólica reunida en Jerusalén discernió cómo obrar ante la llegada y la inclusión de los paganos al anuncio de la salvación (Hechos 15). Y aunque han pasado 50 años, el Concilio Vaticano II sigue creando ese aggiornamento del que tanto habló Juan XXIII cuando lo convocó.
 
En las próximas entregas iremos profundizando en los temas y documentos claves del Vaticano II, qué significado tienen para nosotros hoy y cómo podemos conocer mejor estos documentos gracias al desarrollo de la tecnología.
 
El P. Alejandro López-Cardinale , un sacerdote de la Arquidiócesis de Caracas, Venezuela, es el Coordinador de Servicios pastorales hispanos de RENEW International.
 
Part I: What’s the Novelty?
 
On October 11, 2012, thanks to the initiative of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church together with the historic Christian churches, began the celebration of the Year of Faith, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. This council was convened by Pope John XXIII who was declared blessed and a model for all Christians by Pope John Paul II.
Vatican II was born under the protection of three major players:
a. Pope John XXIII, who barely three months after starting his ministry as Bishop of Rome began to work at full steam;
b. An ecclesial internal renewal movement that began brewing after World War I and was gelling by the end of World War II, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. This movement, of which John XXIII was a faithful witness, called for a renewed presence of the Church in all areas of society: ecumenical relations, education and academia, as well as pastoral and civil society;
c. The Holy Spirit, who never ceases acting and working in the Church as God’s presence in our midst and as the faithful promise of Jesus to his disciples.
 
On January 25, 1959, Pope John announced his intention to convene an ecumenical council; the pope chose a significant day since the liturgical feast we celebrate on that date is the conversion of St. Paul.
 
Unlike many ecumenical councils of the past, Vatican II was not called as a response to a heresy or apostasy. On the contrary, John XXIII said that it was a response to the necessity of an aggiornamento for the Church. The term refers to a renewal, an opening, a dialogue, an adaptation, a conscious hermeneutic and critique of the Church. John XXIII chose this term wisely, utilizing the smoothness of the Italian language while at the same time making use of the dynamism of the verb aggiornare, which implies constant movement. In this manner he avoided any reference to the word “reform” was and, with it, any allusion to the events lived in the 16th century. Without a doubt, John XXIII opened a new era in the history of the Catholic Church and in Christian theology in general, because the phenomenon of Vatican II impacted the historical Christian churches as well.
 
What were the objectives of Vatican II? As John XXIII expressed in his address during the convocation, there were two:
• The opening of the Church to the modern world and society to scrutinize “the signs of the times” in order to make intelligible the proclamation of the Gospel.
• The unity of all Christians or the active presence of the Church in ecumenism.
A month before the beginning of the council, John XXIII added another objective:
• In strict fidelity to the Gospel, to be the church of the poor. This thesis was defended by Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro in one of his addresses at the council: “The Church presents itself, as it is and as it wants to be, as everyone’s Church, in particular, as the Church of the poor.”
It was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (Pope Paul VI), successor to John XIII declared Venerable by Benedict XVI on December 12, 2012, who gave form and substance to these objectives. In an address during the council Paul VI proposed three aims:
• Deepening of the nature and internal renewal of the Church;
• Increasing the dialogue between the Church and the world;
• Reuniting separated Christians with the Catholic Church.
 
These three goals evolved throughout the process of the council, which lasted three years, 1962-1965, into three engines of reflection whose result we see in three documents. They are at the level of “constitution” (which implies the character of law and therefore obligation) and the level of “decree” (which opens the dialogue for theological, pastoral, practical, and canonical reflection. Thus, respectively, in relation to the three goals proposed by Cardinal Montini, they were:
• The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium;
• The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes;.
• The Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio.
 
Vatican II has bequeathed to the Roman Catholic Church and all Christians a clear message: read the signs of the times so that—from them and in the light of the Holy Spirit—we may discern the presence or absence of God and act accordingly. In a similar way, the Apostolic community in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago discerned, as they proclaimed salvation through Jesus Christ, that God had made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles (Acts 15). And although 50 years have passed, this council, continues to create the aggiornamento that John XXIII announced when he summoned it.
 
In upcoming installments we will explore more deeply the themes and key documents of Vatican II, their meaning for us today, and how, thanks to the development of technology, we can know them better.
 
Fr. Alejandro López-Cardinale, a priest of the Archdiocese of Caracas, Venezuela, is Coordinator of RENEW International’s Hispanic Pastoral Services.

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“…they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” -Acts 14:27

The open door image reminded me of this famous scene from the old radio and TV series Dragnet in which Sgt. Joe Friday is talking to Father Rojas about a theft from the church.

Sgt. Joe Friday: Was the statue there before Mass?
Fr. Rojas: I don’t know, but it was there last night.
Sgt. Friday: How late is the church open?
Fr. Rojas: All night.
Sgt. Friday: You leave it wide open…so any thief can walk in?
Fr. Rojas: (QUIETLY) Particularly thieves, Sergeant.
(http://www.genericradio.com/show.php?id=P7AJAFAMC)

Open doors invite the passerby to come and see what is inside. Even more promising is an open door from which a friendly face beckons us to come in. As I look outside my office window I can see the doors of the church across the street. I watch people enter throughout the day. It is good to see that some churches still leave the door open.

In Acts of the Apostles, we read about the first missionary activity of the early Christian community. The disciples of Jesus, fired up by the Spirit, invited all to an encounter with the living Christ. They opened the door of faith not only to the Jewish people but also to the Gentiles.

Pope Benedict XVI in his letter The Door of Faith proclaimed a Year of Faith to begin on October 11, 2012—the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church—and to end on November 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King. The Holy Father wrote, “The Year of Faith … is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world” (The Door of Faith, 6).

It is not a coincidence that Blessed Pope John XXIII, in St. Paul’s Basilica on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, announced his intention to call a general council of the church. He said the reason for calling the Second Vatican Council was the need for a “gust of fresh air” into the church, “to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in.” He is reported to have dramatically flung open a window to make his point. The heart of Vatican II was to open the doors and windows of the church to allow the Holy Spirit to renew not only the church but the face of the earth with the Gospel.

God is knocking on the door of our hearts, inviting us to a deeper more personal relationship with Christ. This relationship calls us to ongoing conversion: offering our lives each day to love God and to love our neighbor. As we celebrate Vatican II it is time to fling open the windows and doors of the church once again and let the “gust of fresh air, ” the power of the Holy Spirit, reform and renew the church so we can see out and people can see in.

To read the full text of Pope Benedict’s letter and to begin thinking about how you can deepen your own faith in the coming year, check out the official Vatican Year of Faith website.

You can also visit RENEW’s web page on the Year of Faith

Abriendo la Puerta de la Fe…

“…reunieron a la Iglesia y se pusieron a contar todo cuanto Dios había hecho juntamente con ellos y cómo había abierto a los gentiles la puerta de la fe.” – Hechos 14:27

La imagen de la puerta abierta me recordó esta famosa escena de la serie de radio y televisión Dragnet en la que el Sargento Joe Friday está hablando con el Padre Rojas acerca de un robo en la iglesia.

Sgto. Joe Friday: ¿La estatua estaba allí antes de la Misa?
Padre Rojas: No sé, pero estaba allí anoche.
Sgto. Friday: ¿Hasta qué hora esta abierta la iglesia?
Padre Rojas: Toda la noche.
Sgto. Friday: ¿Usted deja las puertas abiertas… de manera que cualquier ladrón puede entrar?
Padre Rojas: (en voz baja) Particularmente ladrones, Sargento.

Puertas abiertas invitan al viandante a venir y ver lo que hay dentro. Aún más prometedor es una puerta abierta de la cual una cara amable nos hace un llamado para entrar. Cuando miro hacia afuera desde la ventana de mi oficina puedo ver las puertas de la iglesia al otro lado de la calle. Veo gente entrar durante el día. Es bueno ver que algunas iglesias siguen dejando la puerta abierta.

En los Hechos de los Apóstoles, leemos acerca de la primera actividad misionera de las primeras comunidades cristianas. Los discípulos de Jesús, alentados por el Espíritu, invitaron a todos a un encuentro con Cristo vivo. Abrieron la puerta de la fe, no sólo al pueblo judío, sino también a los gentiles.

El Papa Benedicto XVI en su carta Puerta de la Fe proclamo el Año de la Fe que comienza el 11 de octubre, 2012-el 50 aniversario del Concilio Vaticano II y el 20 aniversario del Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica-y termina el 24 de noviembre de 2013, la fiesta de Cristo Rey. El Santo Padre ha escrito: “El Año de la Fe… es un llamado a una conversión auténtica y renovada al Señor, único Salvador del mundo” (La Puerta de la Fe, 6).

No es una coincidencia que el Beato Papa Juan XXIII, en la Basílica de San Pablo, en la fiesta de la Conversión de San Pablo, anunció su intención de convocar un concilio general de la Iglesia. Dijo que el motivo de la llamada del Concilio Vaticano II fue la necesidad de un “soplo de aire fresco” en la iglesia, “para abrir las ventanas de la Iglesia y de esa manera podamos ver hacia fuera y que la gente pueda ver hacia adentro.” Se reporta que para enfatizar su punto, abrió una ventana vigorosamente. El corazón del Vaticano II fue abrir las puertas y ventanas de la iglesia para que el Espíritu Santo renueve no sólo la Iglesia, sino la faz de la tierra con el Evangelio.

Dios está llamando a la puerta de nuestros corazones, invitándonos a una relación más profunda, más personal con Cristo. Esta relación nos llama a la conversión constante: ofreciendo nuestras vidas cada día para amar a Dios y amar a nuestro prójimo. Al celebrar el Vaticano II, es el momento de lanzarse a abrir las ventanas y las puertas de la iglesia una vez más y dejar que el “soplo de aire fresco,” el poder del Espíritu Santo, renueve la iglesia para que podamos ver hacia fuera y la gente vea hacia adentro.

Para leer el texto completo de la carta del Papa Benedicto XVI y explorar ideas de cómo puedes profundizar tu propia fe en el año entrante, visita el sitio web oficial del Vaticano Año de la Fe.

También puedes visitar el sitio web de RENEW en www.renewintl.org/yearoffaith.

Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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When I was in the third grade my friend Melinda, who attended a Christian community church, told me her minister was away for the summer and they did not have to go to Sunday services. I thought this was a great idea. When my Mom woke me up on the following Sunday to go to Mass, I informed her we did not have to go to church during summer vacation. She quickly responded, “Honey, we’re Catholic and we go to Mass every Sunday. We don’t take a vacation from God, and more important to remember is that God never takes a vacation from us.”

Even when we went camping my parents would search for the local Catholic church and Mass time, no matter how far we would have to drive, no matter how remote the town. It reinforced the idea that church is not a seasonal affair. Participation is not optional. Christianity is not something you pick up and then drop when it interferes with your vacation or social or sports calendar. As kids we learned a lesson from our parents’ example about prioritizing Mass attendance. What lesson do we teach our children when we abandon church for the summer? What credibility will we have with our children later in life when they are “too busy” or “too tired” to go to church?

As an adult I find the summer season, especially vacation time, a wonderful opportunity to reflect more fully on God’s presence in my life and especially in creation. Last week I spent time running, swimming, and sitting in the sun with a good book. I was filled with gratitude for the ocean, sand, and waves. From my brother’s beach house on the Gulf of Mexico, I watched a summer storm move in with great gusto. Then, just as quickly, the storm passed and I was caught by surprise by the appearance of a magnificent rainbow. I recalled the biblical significance of the rainbow as a sign of God’s promise of hope and mercy—that God will never abandon me even in the midst of life’s most devastating storms. I paused and gave thanks for this midsummer revelation of God’s promise. I thanked God for being with me in good times and bad times, and for my Mom’s words so many years ago, “God never takes a vacation from us.”

As you plan your vacation or spend time at the beach or pool, pack a prayer book or some spiritual reading along with the sandals and novel. Make time to attend Sunday Mass, and even consider attending daily Mass during your vacation. How about praying the rosary in the car on the way to your destination? Click here for other ways to take God on vacation with you.

We need prayer, especially during the restful days of summer vacation, because the only true place of rest is with God.

Gratitudes de medio verano

Cuando yo estaba en el tercer grado, mi amiga Melinda quien asistía a una iglesia de la comunidad Cristiana, me dijo que su ministro estaba fuera en vacaciones de verano y que ellos no tenían que asistir a los servicios dominicales. Yo pensé que esa era una gran idea. El siguiente domingo, cuando mi mamá me despertó para ir a misa, yo le informé que nosotros no teníamos que ir a Misa durante las vacaciones de verano. Ella rápidamente me contestó, “querida, nosotros somos católicos y vamos a Misa todos los domingos. Nosotros no tomamos vacaciones de Dios, es mas, debemos siempre recordar que Dios nunca toma vacaciones de nosotros”.

Siempre que íbamos de campamento, mis padres buscaban ubicar donde queda la iglesia católica y su horario de misas. No importaba la cantidad de millas que teníamos que viajar al pueblo más remoto, lo que reforzaba la idea de que la Iglesia no era un asunto de temporada. La participación en la Misa no era una opción. La cristiandad no es algo que tu tomas y lo tiras cuando interfiere con tus vacaciones o tu calendario de eventos sociales y deportivos. Desde niños aprendemos la lección de los ejemplos de nuestros padres, que asistir a Misa era prioridad. ¿Cual es el ejemplo que estamos enseñando a nuestros hijos cuando abandonamos la iglesia por el verano? ¿Qué credibilidad tendremos antes nuestros hijos cuando sean grandes, cuando estén “muy ocupados” o “muy cansados” para asistir a la iglesia?

Ahora de adulta yo encuentro la temporada de verano, especialmente el tiempo de vacaciones, como una gran y maravillosa oportunidad para reflexionar con más entereza en la presencia de Dios en mi vida, especialmente en la creación. La semana pasada me fui a correr, a nadar a la playa y me senté bajo el sol a leer un buen libro. Me sentía llena de gratitud hacia Dios y su creación por el mar, la arena y las olas del mar. Desde la casa de verano de mi hermano en el golfo de México, pude observar con gran placer como una tormenta de verano se movía. Entonces, como de repente la tormenta pasó y yo quedé cautivada por la sorpresa de la aparición de un enorme arco iris. Me acorde del significado bíblico del arco iris como un signo de la promesa de esperanza y misericordia de Dios. Con la certeza de que Dios nunca me abandonaría ni siquiera en medio de la mas devastadoras de las tormentas, pause y le di gracias por esta revelación de la promesa de Dios en medio del verano. Le di gracias por estar conmigo en los tiempos buenos y en los tiempos malos, y por las palabras de mi mamá de hace tiempo atrás. “Dios nunca toma vacaciones de nosotros.”

Cuando hagas planes para tus vacaciones o para tomar tiempo para ir a la playa o a la piscina, empaca un libro de oraciones o algún libro con narraciones espirituales con tus sandalias y novelas. Saca el tiempo para asistir a la Misa dominical y de ser posible para asistir a la Misa diaria durante tus vacaciones. ¿Que tal rezar el rosario en camino a tu lugar de destino? Necesitamos oración, especialmente en los días de descanso del verano, por la sencilla razón, de que el único lugar de descanso está con Dios.

Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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The ShackIn the bestselling novel The Shack, the Trinity appears in unorthodox form to Mack, a father whose youngest daughter has been murdered. In this story, the Holy Spirit is portrayed as “full of dynamic shades and hues of color and motion”—a Spirit alive and active and visible in everyday life. At one point in the story, God appears as a gardener and asks the father to assist her in clearing out a tangled mess of flowers and thorns that, we later discover, is actually Mack’s heart. Although The Shack is just a story and not a catechism, it reflects some truths about a loving and personal God who cares for us. I think that is why so many seekers and people of faith are drawn to the book—enough to make it a best seller!

The gardening imagery is an apt metaphor for the Holy Spirit’s work of planting the word of God in our hearts and pulling up the weeds of doubt and fear that threaten to choke out the faith blossoming in us. The Holy Spirit is a dynamic member of the Holy Trinity that often gets short shrift. In my early years, the only time I thought about the Holy Spirit was when I was preparing for exams. In those days—when my major was socializing and athletics—I was praying more for a miracle than for recollection of information I had not retained through study.

Today I experience the Holy Spirit as the one who moves me from being a lukewarm believer to a fully committed disciple. It is the Holy Spirit that moves me beyond my selfish desires to a motivation to give myself more generously to others. It is the Holy Spirit that moves me from simply acquiring knowledge to developing true wisdom. It is the Holy Spirit that activates my faith and helps me to live more fully each day in God’s love.

As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost we pray for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit on each of our hearts and on the heart of the Church. May we recognize the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit moving in and through our world in the shades of color found in the people, the events, and the many manifestations of nature we encounter each day.

El Espíritu Santo vive y obra en nuestra vida

En la muy popular novela La Cabaña, la Trinidad se aparece en forma poco ortodoxa a Mack, un padre cuya hija más joven ha sido asesinada. En esta historia, el Espíritu Santo se presenta como “lleno de matices dinámicos de color y movimiento”, un Espíritu vivo y activo, y visible en la vida cotidiana. En un momento en la historia, Dios aparece como un jardinero y le pide al padre que la ayude en la limpieza de una maraña de flores y espinas que, más tarde descubrimos, es en realidad el corazón de Mack. A pesar de que La Cabaña es solo una historia y no un catecismo, refleja algunas verdades acerca de un Dios amoroso y personal que nos cuida. ¡Creo que es por eso que tantas personas en busca de Dios y tantas personas de fe se sienten atraídos por el libro, lo suficiente para que sea un best seller!

Las imágenes de un jardín es una buena metáfora de la obra del Espíritu Santo, la siembra de la Palabra de Dios en nuestro corazón y arrancar la cizaña de la duda y el miedo que amenazan con ahogar el florecimiento de la fe en nosotros. El Espíritu Santo es un miembro dinámico de la Santísima Trinidad, que a menudo se subestima. En mis primeros años, la única vez que pensaba en el Espíritu Santo era cuando me estaba preparando para los exámenes. En aquellos días, cuando mi especialidad era socializar y ser atleta, estaba rezando por un milagro más que para recordar la información que no había retenido por el estudio.

Hoy conozco al Espíritu Santo como el que me convierte de ser una creyente tibia a una discípula totalmente comprometida. Es el Espíritu Santo que me mueve más allá de mis deseos egoístas a la motivación para estar dispuesta a darme más generosamente a los demás. Es el Espíritu Santo que me mueve desde la simple adquisición de conocimientos al desarrollo de la verdadera sabiduría. Es el Espíritu Santo que activa mi fe y me ayuda a vivir más plenamente cada día en el amor de Dios.

Al celebrar la fiesta de Pentecostés roguemos por un mayor derramamiento del Espíritu Santo en cada uno de nuestros corazones y en el corazón de la Iglesia. Podemos reconocer la presencia dinámica del Espíritu Santo en y por medio de nuestro mundo en los tonos de colores que vemos en las personas, los acontecimientos y las muchas manifestaciones de la naturaleza que nos encontramos cada día.

Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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I have always loved the season of Lent. For me, it is a time to refocus on God and get my life in right order. As a child I thought Lent was about giving up things like candy and fighting with my sister, Mary. I have come to realize that it is not so much about giving up things but about seizing the opportunity to be all that God has called me to be—a holy, healthy, and loving person.

So here are five things not to do this Lent:

Don’t give up. Instead of giving up something for Lent, try doing something that will bring you closer to God. Here are some ideas: go to Mass during the week, spend time reflecting on the daily or Sunday readings, experience the beauty of God’s creation by taking walks, make donations to your favorite charities, volunteer at the local food bank, light candles and say prayers for the people you know who are struggling.

Don’t sweat it. Whatever it is you committed to do (or not do) this Lent, the point isn’t to do (or not do) it perfectly. Do it (or don’t do it), but if you don’t do it (or if you do do it), accept it as a reminder that you are not perfect. Only God is perfect. Say a prayer and start again.

Don’t starve yourself. Lent isn’t about going on a diet or losing weight; it’s about the conversion of our hearts. Eat healthy, get some exercise, and don’t succumb to our culture’s obsession with physical appearances.

Don’t make it more difficult than it is. The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Find simple ways to pray, fast, and give to the poor.

Don’t hold back. Lent will present you with many opportunities to convert your heart and your life, to heal broken relationships, and to grow closer to God. When you find yourself presented with such an opportunity, embrace it.

On further reflection, this Lent I should give up fighting with my sister Mary :). The poor woman had to put up with me all these years, borrowing her clothes and touching her stuff—things I still do. Actually, we don’t fight much anymore. I guess we are getting older or maybe wiser. Today we are grateful to have each other.

So this Lent don’t give up, don’t sweat it, don’t starve yourself, don’t make it more difficult than it is, and, most especially, don’t hold back! May you be moved this Lent by a deep desire for a new heart and a new spirit, and may God answer your prayer.

Cinco cosas que no se deben hacer en Cuaresma

Siempre me ha gustado el tiempo de Cuaresma. Para mi es el tiempo para volver a enfocarme en Dios y para poner mi vida en orden. De niña yo pensaba que la época de Cuaresma era para hacer sacrificios, como por ejemplo, no comer dulces y dejar de pelear con mi hermana Mary. Pero me he dado cuenta que la Cuaresma no es solo para hacer sacrificio de dejar de hacer cosas, sino mas bien es el tiempo de buscar la oportunidad de ser todo eso que Dios quiere y me ha llamado que yo sea, una persona santa, saludable y amorosa.

Así que aquí tienen cinco cosas que no se deben hacer en Cuaresma:

No deje de hacer cosas por sacrificio. En vez de dejar de hacer cosas como sacrificio en Cuaresma, trate de hacer cosas que lo acerque más a Dios. Aquí tiene algunas ideas: vaya a Misa durante los días de semana, tome tiempo para reflexionar en las lecturas de la semana y del domingo, salga a caminar y experimente la belleza de la creación de Dios. Mejor aun haga alguna donación a su institución de caridad favorita, hágase voluntaria en su banco de alimento local, encienda una vela y haga oraciones por las personas que usted conoce que están pasando por momentos difíciles.

No jure en vano. Cualquiera que sea la cosa que se comprometió a hacer (o no hacer) en esta Cuaresma, el punto no es hacerla (o dejar de hacerla) perfectamente. Hágala (o no la haga) pero si no la hace (o si la hace) acéptala como un recordatorio de que usted no es perfecto. Solo Dios es perfecto. Haga una oración y empiece todo de nuevo.

No se eche a morir con el ayuno. La Cuaresma no se trata de empezar una dieta, o de perder peso; se trata de la conversión de nuestro corazón. Coma de manera saludable, y haga ejercicios pero no sucumba a la cultura de la obsesión por la apariencia física.

No lo haga más difícil de lo que realmente es. Los tres pilares de la Cuaresma son: la oración, el ayuno y dar limosna. Encuentre pues un modo sencillo de orar, de ayunar y de dar a los pobres.

No se retenga. La época de Cuaresma le presentará muchas oportunidades para convertir su corazón y su vida, a sanar relaciones rotas, y a crecer más cerca de Dios. Cuando usted se encuentre con tales oportunidades, no se retenga, acójalas.

Pensándolo bien, en esta Cuaresma si debo dejar de pelearme con mí hermana Mary. La pobre ha tenido que luchar conmigo por tantos años, tomándole su ropa prestada, y tocando sus pertenencias, cosas que aun hago. En realidad ahora ya no peleamos tanto. Creo que estamos envejeciendo, o quizás ahora tenemos más sabiduría. Hoy por hoy estamos muy agradecidas la una de la otra.

Así que en esta Cuaresma ¡no ofrezca dejar de hacer cosas, no jure en vano, no se eche a morir, no lo haga mas difícil de lo que es, y muy especialmente, no se retenga! Que en esta Cuaresma usted sea movido por un deseo profundo de cambiar su corazón y su espíritu por uno nuevo, y que Dios escuche su oración.

Bendiciones de Cuaresma

Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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We at RENEW recently celebrated Dominican Sister Marenid Fabre’s Jubilee in honor of her 25 years of religious life. Sister Marenid worked as a missionary in the Caribbean islands and Colombia before her calling brought her to RENEW. Now she trains lay leaders as they foster small communities of faith within parishes using ¿Por qué ser católico?

During the prayer service, Sister Marenid’s father, Don Victor Fabre, was invited to share what these 25 years meant to him. When his children were young, he said, he prayed to have a religious vocation in his family. Specifically, he prayed to God for one of his four sons to become a priest.

Years later, when Marenid finished her bachelor’s degree, she said to her father, “I have now accomplished your goal. It is time to follow my heart and become a Dominican sister.”

Don Victor was puzzled. When he asked God for a religious vocation in his family, it had never crossed his mind that the call would come to his only daughter. God had his own plans.

Victor’s prayers were heard. God doesn’t give us what we ask for, but gives us what we need. God always works in us and through us.

Victor was granted the gift of having a religious vocation in his family. And now, his daughter has spent 25 years journeying through the paths and hearts that only those elected and consecrated to the Lord can walk. She finds strength in prayer, sacraments, community, and service to others. She has preached with her works and her words through what she has learned from her Dominican Order and from what she has experienced from the reality of Jesus’s life in her life.

Victor and his family are blessed to have her. We at RENEW are blessed too.

La semana pasada celebramos aquí en la oficina de RENEW International los 25 años de vida religiosa de la Hna. Marenid Fabre. Nuestra querida hermana ha trabajado como misionera en las Islas del Caribe y Colombia antes de llegar a RENEW. Una vez con nosotros, ella se ha dedicado al entrenamiento de los líderes Hispanos en algunas diócesis de los Estados Unidos por medio del proceso de ¿Por qué ser católico?

Para esta celebración la Hna. Marenid invitó a sus papás y durante nuestro compartir de la fe, el papá de la hermana, Don Víctor Fabre compartió con nosotros como él siempre oró por tener en uno de sus hijos una vocación religiosa. En realidad lo que él le pedía a Dios era que uno de sus cuatro hijos fuera sacerdote, sin embargo, Dios tenía otros planes con esas oraciones y con los deseos de su papá.

Años después, el día en que la Hermana Marenid termino su bachillerato en educación va a casas y le entrega el título a su papá diciendole: aquí esta una de tus metas, te la entrego, ahora me voy y me dirijo hacia lo que estoy llamada a ser, una religiosa dominica.

Don Víctor desconcertado le decía a Dios: “cuando yo te pedía el tener una vocación en nuestra familia me refería a uno de mis hijos, no que te llevaras a mi única hija para ser religiosa…”

De una u otra manera, las oraciones del papá de la Hna. Marenid fueron escuchadas. Dios siempre trabaja en nosotros y por nosotros. Dios no le dio a Don Víctor el sacerdote que tanto deseaba, pero si le concedió el regalo de tener una hija que a lo largo de estos 25 años de vida religiosa, ha andado por lugares y corazones que solo los elegidos y consagrados al Señor pueden andar. Predicando con sus obras y sus palabras no solo lo que ella ha aprendido de la regla de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, pero sobre todo lo que ha aprendido, llorado, reflexionado, experimentado desde la misma vida de Jesús en su vida diaria, del Jesús que nos fortalece y que encontramos en la oración, en los sacramentos, en la comunidad y en el servicio a los demás.

Alma is one of RENEW’s Spanish presenters and works with lay leaders to successfully implement programs.

Cultural Mosaic appears monthly in both English and Spanish.

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“Let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord.”
— Pope Benedict XVI to the young people gathered in Spain on August 16

With around two million participants last month, the World Youth Day held in Madrid ranks as the third most attended. In a world where so many young people are disaffected by religion, it is uplifting to see that there is a group that is looking for a personal encounter with Christ and for ways to serve the Church.

I have been working with one parish in Chihuahua, Mexico, that has small, faith-sharing groups of young adults that meet once a week to share the word of God, their faith experiences, and their efforts to practice what this faith implies. One young man wrote a song for his parish, and told me that he was very grateful to God for giving him the gift to write the song and the opportunity to share it with all of us. Some of these young adults belong to their church choirs and sing every Sunday at Mass. Others serve weekly as ministers of the word. There is also a group of young adults who collect food and deliver it to local nursing homes and hospitals.

These young people have the peace that Benedict spoke of at World Youth Day. They carry it in their hearts whenever they commit to serve the word of God, walk in the footsteps of Christ by their practice of charity, and grow in their love for Jesus through the reception of the sacraments. They embody the words of Benedict XVI and remain firm in their faith and proclaim it openly in their lives.

That is why we invite the youth of the world to use the gifts the Lord has given them and share their faith with others. As Pope Benedict also stated, “The world needs your faith.”

“Que nada ni nadie os quite la paz; no os avergoncéis del Señor”. Estas fueron unas de las palabras que el Papa Benedicto XVI dijo a los jóvenes el pasado 16 de agosto.

En un mundo donde muchos jóvenes se encuentran desinteresados de las cosas de Dios es reconfortante ver que hay otros que buscan un encuentro personal con Cristo, así como también servir a su Iglesia. En las diferentes parroquias donde se está llevando a cabo alguno de los procesos de RENEW existen grupos de adolescentes, de jóvenes adultos casados y solteros que reflexionando una vez por semana comparten la palabra de Dios, sus experiencias de fe, y la práctica que conlleva este aprendizaje. Algunos de ellos son ministros de la palabra, otros pertenecen al coro, asisten a los ancianos y enfermos de su parroquia y comparten la alegría de caminar en las huellas de Cristo. De una u otra manera ponen en práctica las palabras de Benedicto XVI: “que nadie os quite la paz”, los jóvenes buscan la paz, la llevan en sus corazones cada vez que se entregan al servicio de la Palabra de Dios, practicando la caridad y acrecentando su amor a Jesús por medio de la recepción de los sacramentos. Por eso te invitamos a ti, joven, a que no te avergüences del Señor y a que pongas en práctica los dones que de Dios has recibido. Y recuerda estas palabras “El mundo necesita de tu fe” Benedicto XVI JMJ 2011.

Alma is one of RENEW’s Spanish presenters and works with lay leaders to successfully implement programs.
Cultural Mosaic appears monthly in both English and Spanish.

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San Felipe Apostle Parish in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, has recently started its second year of ¿Por qué ser católico? (Why Catholic? in Spanish) The process began last year with 30 people attending workshops. By the end of that first year, 250 people participated, prayed, and shared their faith. There are now 21 small groups in this parish committed to evangelizing and catechizing their people and to becoming a community of small communities. These 21 small groups are made up of teenagers, young adults both married and single, and even senior citizens . The success of ¿Por qué ser católico? in the parish is due to the great collaboration and coordination of the Parish Team and their pastor, Msgr. Luis L. Padilla.

¿Por qué ser católico? has enhanced the sense of community in the parish and has brought the parishioners closer together. One of the Parish Team members shared her experience with us: “Through the small groups and my work with the Parish Team, God has given me the opportunity to grow more deeply in His love and have the experience of seeing the Parish Team has become my extended family.”

We invite you to watch this video they created to see how the ministers of the parish, longtime parishioners, and newcomers reflect together on the Word of God. They joyously serve our Lord in welcoming each other and enthusiastically learn the teachings of our Catholic Church.


La parroquia de San Felipe Apóstol en la Ciudad de Chihuahua, México, ha iniciado su segundo año de ¿Por qué ser católico?, con gran entusiasmo y con 21 pequeñas comunidades eclesiales. Esta parroquia se ha tomado en serio su papel de evangelizar y catequizar por medio de pequeños grupos y así tener una comunidad parroquial de pequeñas comunidades. Para que todo éste proceso esté funcionando la colaboración y la coordinación del Equipo Parroquial y de su párroco, Monseñor Luis L. Padilla ha sido esencial y verdaderamente han hecho su trabajo. Al inicio del proceso cuando se dieron los primeros talleres solo asistieron 30 personas. Para el retiro y el término del libro La oración del cristiano tuvimos una participación de 250 personas. Entre estos 21 grupos tenemos adolescentes, jóvenes adultos casados y solteros, y grupos de personas de la tercera edad.

En el video que se presenta a continuación conocerán algunas de las pequeñas comunidades y el nombre de cada una de ellas. En sus rostros se refleja el entusiasmo y las ganas de acercarse más a Dios y a los demás, mientras aprenden y comparten la experiencia de ser Iglesia.

Cultural Mosaic appears monthly in both English and Spanish.

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