By Mary Dieter

August 11, 2004

I will/can never forgive them! The "them" can be the person who slighted me, the boss who didn't promote me, the father who abused me, the brother who stole my inheritance, the criminal who murdered my daughter, the nation that killed my son during war.

Our refusal to forgive the ones who hurt us also involves a refusal to forgive ourselves for not being smart enough, strong enough, present enough to avert the injury. "I should have been there... I shouldn't have let them go... I should have seen it coming...." These thoughts of our own inadequacy become the background to our obsessive thoughts and feelings about the ones who have become "the enemy."

Did You Know? #4

John Houk

Many dioceses, including our own here in Pittsburgh, are finding it necessary to provide for the pastoral care of parishes with fewer priests. This situation was recognized, deliberated on and a new code in canon law was written in 1983. Canon 517.2 reads as follows: “If, because of a lack of priests, the diocesan bishop has decided that participation in the pastoral care of a parish is to be entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest, or to a community of persons, he is to appoint some priest who, provided with the powers and faculties of a pastor, is to direct the pastoral care.”

Did You Know #3

by John Houk

The feast days come so fast this year that it is difficult to keep up on the seasons. Sunday, Dec. 26 was the feast of the Holy Family and as I listened to the readings I was taken by surprise when the reader read Colossians 3:18 “Wives be subordinate to your husbands”. It took me by surprise because it has been years since I had heard this reading in Church and here is why.

Some years ago our Catholic Church became publicly aware of the prevalence of domestic violence. Women are the target of this violence 95% of the time and our Church recognized that some scripture readings were being interpreted to condone domestic violence. The U.S. Lectionary now provides for an alternative reading for the feast of the Holy Family that leaves out Col 3:18 just as we do not read verses that call for slaves to obey their masters. The Irish bishops asked Rome, in a document titled “Domestic Violence”, to omit Colossians 3:18 and six other readings from the Lectionary and added that if these passages were “quoted in any context, they should be suitably commented on in light of contemporary church teaching.”

The UCCB published “A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence” (Pub. 547-X) which says in part “As bishops, we condemn the use of the Bible to condone abusive behavior” and “Even where the Bible uses traditional language to support the social order common in the day, the image is never one that condones abuse.” Yet here we are still hearing this reading, without comment, through carelessness or intent, and one is as bad as the other. Perhaps our pastors do not know that if there are 100 women in the congregation listening to these readings that between 25 and 30 of them have been victims of violence in their own home, and that these readings continue to be used to support violent behavior on the part of husbands. Perhaps we should tell them what our bishops already know.

Did You Know #2

by John Houk

From earliest Christian times it has been popular, for those who had the health and money, to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. These pilgrims often came home with stories of a powerful spiritual experience as they walked “the way of the cross”. In 1342 the Franciscans Order took responsibility for many holy sites in Jerusalem including those marking the path Jesus took when he carried his cross to his own crucifixion. The Franciscans took it upon themselves to popularize a devotion to the spiritual exercise of walking the way of the cross.

The Franciscans wanted everyone to be able to have this experience including those who did not have the money or health to make the long trip to the Holy Land. So soon after 1342 in Western Europe it became common to come upon a series of shrines portraying the way of the cross. They were to be found along roadsides, in church yards and even inside churches. One Franciscan by the name of Leonard of Port Maurice, is credited with setting up over 500 sets of shrines. These shrines eventually came to be called “stations” and the practice of praying at each station became know as praying The Stations of The Cross.

Today it is less common to find Stations of The Cross along the road sides, but you will find them in many church yards, on the grounds of monasteries and retreat centers and inside essentially every Catholic Church. The prayer intention is always the same, to walk with Jesus as he carries his cross.

Did you Know??

by John Houk

The Vatican is really a country, and it is the smallest country in the world. The Vatican City State is indeed a separate political entity separate from the country of Italy and the City of Rome.

The size of the Vatican City State is about 108 acres which makes it the smallest country in the world. It is said that you can walk across the Vatican in about 30 minutes.

Tradition holds that the Apostle Peter was martyred by Emperor Nero and buried outside the walls of Rome in a cemetery at a place called Vatican Hill. Writings from the second century talk about a shrine that had been built over the tomb of the apostle on that hill.

In the fourth century a church was built over the same spot which was later replaced by St. Peter’s Basilica. Construction of St. Peter’s Basilica began in 1506 and it was dedicated in 1626. The basilica contains the burial places of over 130 popes including what is believed to be the grave of St. Peter which is under the main altar.

Also located in the Vatican City State are office buildings, the Vatican Museum, Vatican Library, a radio station and a television station, observatory, newspaper gardens and art galleries, post office, bank, etc., all of which function independent of any other country. This independence is important to the functioning of the Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church is independent from the authority of any country or city, which gives the Church the freedom to say and do whatever is required without interference. For a trip around Vatican City go to the Vatican web site.