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By: Deacon Marques Silva

Every year when my family makes its yearly pilgrimage to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, it seems that everywhere I turn, even at the beach, there are reminders of the Trinity and His Church. One of our favorite activities is to walk along the beach and collect sea shells. We consistently find one specific type: scallop sea shells.

St. JamesDid you know that scallops have a rich tradition within our faith and are an ancient symbol of Baptism? Many times these shells are the vessel used by the ordinary minister to pour water over the heads of catechumens during the Sacrament of Baptism. The scallop, too, is associated with, and is a symbol for, the Apostle James the Greater.

There are two ancient myths that attempt to explain why St. James is connected with this sea shell. Since St. James had spent time preaching around the Iberian Peninsula, version one goes like this:

“After James’ death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, the body washed ashore, undamaged and covered in scallops.”1

A second version, though a bit more romantic, is like the first:

“After James’ death, his body was mysteriously transported by a ship with no crew back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As James’ ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on the shore. The young bridegroom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and the horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in sea shells.”2

The scallop has been associated with the Way of St. James, one of the most important pilgrimages during medieval times, for over a thousand years. Some say the grooves of the shell that come to a point represent the various routes of the pilgrimage that all converge upon the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela.

Pilgrimages were also thought to be a way to “renew” your relationship with Christ like a new Baptism. So, while walking along beaches this summer, maybe you’ll find some of those scallops and remember the great gift of Baptism and how it has forever made you a son or daughter of the Most High. You know, the One who created the beach.


1.“Symbols of the Camino,” Caminoteca, 2013, accessed June 14, 2014, http://www.caminoteca.com/index.php/symbols-of-the-camino.html.

2. Ibid.

From the Office of Communications

 

This article first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Asking for forgiveness, Pope Francis told abuse survivors that “despicable actions” caused by clergy have been hidden for too long and had been “camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained.”

“There is no place in the church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” and to hold all bishops accountable for protecting young people, the pope said during a special early morning Mass for six survivors of abuse by clergy. The Mass and private meetings held later with each individual took place in the Domus Sanctae Marthae — the pope’s residence and a Vatican guesthouse where the survivors also stayed.

Pope FrancisIn a lengthy, off-the-cuff homily in Spanish July 7, the pope thanked the men and women — two each from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany, for coming to the Vatican to meet with him. The Vatican provided its own translations of the unscripted homily.

The pope praised their courage for speaking out about their abuse, saying that telling the truth “was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the church.”

The pope said the scandal of abuse caused him “deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained.”

He called sex abuse a “crime and grave sin,” that was made even worse when carried out by clergy.

“This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors” violated the innocence of children and their own vocation to God, he said.

“It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of concupiscence,” the pope said.

The pope asked God “for the grace to weep, the grace for the church to weep and make reparations for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons” and left life-long scars.

He told the men and women sitting in the pews that God loved them and he prayed that “the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed.”

In an effort to help the abuse survivors heal, the pope met individually with each one, accompanied by a loved one or family member and a translator, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told journalists.

The pope spent a total of three hours and twenty minutes in closed-door talks with each person, showing the rest of the church that the path of healing is through dialogue and truly listening to victims, Father Lombardi said.

The Jesuit priest said the men and women were visibly moved by the Mass and meetings and had “felt listened to,” and that the encounter was “something positive on their journey” of healing.

The length and nature of the pope’s very first meeting with abuse survivors represent “a sign, a model, an example” for the rest of the church, that “listening is needed” along with tangible efforts for understanding and reconciliation, he said.

Responding to critics that the July 7 meeting and Mass were ineffectual and part of a publicity stunt, Father Lombardi said that if people had been able to see, as he had, the reactions of the men and women who took part in the private gathering, “it was clear that it was absolutely not a public relations event.”

The raw emotion on people’s faces, including the pope’s, as well as his strongly worded homily, all showed the effort had been about “a dialogue with a pastor and father who tries to understand deeply” the wrongs that have been committed and the need “to be honest about reality,” the Vatican spokesman said.

It was the first time Pope Francis met directly with a group of victims of clerical abuse, following a tradition begun by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who met with victims for the first time as pope in 2008 during a visit to Washington, D.C. The retired pope subsequently met with other victims during his pastoral visits to Sydney, Malta, Great Britain and Germany.

Pope Francis had told reporters in May that he would be meeting with a group of survivors of abuse from various countries and would celebrate a private Mass with them. The pope had asked Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston — the head of a new Vatican commission on protecting minors — to help organize the encounter.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which the pope established in December, met July 6 at the Vatican, and its members, including Cardinal O’Malley, were also present at the July 7 Mass.

The commission, which currently has eight members, including a survivor of clerical sex abuse, mental health professionals and experts in civil and church law, is tasked with laying out a pastoral approach to helping victims and preventing abuse.

 

By: Natalie Plumb

We celebrated a tremendous victory on Monday when the Supreme Court decided in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects closely held, private for-profit corporations from being forced to comply with the HHS mandate under Obamacare. The mandate would force these corporations to provide insurance coverage of abortifacient drugs and devices, regardless of the owners’ religious conscience, and despite their faith that forbids complicity in abortion. For cogent Catholic responses to this, read this articlethis article, this article and this article.

HobbyLobby

I must not be the first to notice that, in the midst of this grand decision, we are also in the midst of the Fortnight for Freedom, “a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power — St. Thomas More, the Patron of the Diocese of Arlington, St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.”

Today, on July 4, we celebrate our Independence Day. That means freedom. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of religion. As the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Thank you, Supreme Court, for upholding those roots and those rights. But, as Bishop Loverde stressed in his column, never stop praying; never quit fighting! The battle has only just begun.

By: Kevin Bohli, Director of Youth Ministry

This past week the Arlington Diocese Office of Youth Ministry sponsored the 25th annual WorkCamp in Quicksburg, Va. More than 800 teens, 250 adult leaders, and 100 contractors spent a week repairing homes at 150 worksites. The teens spent the past eight months fundraising and preparing to leave behind their cellphones and video games, sleeping on hard floors, waiting in lines for food and showers, and doing hard physical labor in the 90+ degree weather. The week included daily Mass, regular prayer, and devotions five times each day. Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions, talks and reflections took place each evening, and there were two chapels available for personal prayer time throughout the day.

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On the worksite from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the teens built wheelchair ramps, replaced roofs and windows, repaired bathroom showers and toilets, patched floors, and many other projects designed to help make the residents’ homes warmer, safer, or drier.

This is hardly a typical first week of summer break for teenagers.

At the end of the exhausting week, the teens were invited to provide feedback on their experience. Here is just a small sample:

“Had the time of my life, no doubt!” –Brian

“I had a really good experience here and I really appreciated going to Confession. I haven’t been in 10 years, so I’m really glad that I went.” –Lia

“WorkCamp didn’t only strengthen my faith in Christ, but it also taught me how much it means to have a relationship with God.” –Michael

“Thank you so much for a great experience; I’ll definitely make time to come next year, even if I am turning 18 that week, because it will be better with God having him near me during that.” –Karen

“I learned about how my service can impact my own life rather than just how it can impact another’s.” –Kevin

“I love going to daily Mass, it helps me feel like I am ready to start the day.” –Gretchen

“The most helpful part of the week was Confession and Adoration – a priest gave me a card for the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which was really cool!” –Megan

“I love WorkCamp! It gives me hope and inspires me to evangelize.” –Casey

“Best experience of my life.” –Macy

“My resident had a big impact on me. She was a living example of our theme to ‘love courageously.’” –Teresa

“I have a greater desire to live my life more for Christ and live more simply.” –Abigail

“WorkCamp has been a powerful experience throughout my high school years. I am lucky to have been able to attend all four years. Thank you.” –RJ

“WorkCamp opens my eyes and I definitely plan to work on being a better friend, deepening my relationship with Christ, and doing more work for the poor.” –Sarah

For 25 years, WorkCamp has helped teens serve the poor in our community. However, perhaps more importantly, it’s through the service, prayer, and community of WorkCamp that young people discover the joy of living a life for Christ.

 

All photos courtesy of Gerald Martineau.

By: Deacon Marques Silva

In the United States of America, July 4 celebrates Independence Day. We traditionally gather and grill with family and friends and then go watch a fireworks display. The phrase that sums up our celebrations can be found in the United States Declaration of Independence:

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is one of the most famous phrases in the United States Declaration of Independence, and considered by some as part of one of the most well crafted, influential sentences in the history of the English language.[1]

For Catholics, this phrase is pregnant with meaning.

Life

Life is given to us by God the Father who not only creates us ex nihilo but also sustains our life through the continuous willing of our existence – before and after death.

Though our lives are contingent upon the Father, all other liberties and virtues flow forth from the fact that we are formed in His image and likeness. In particular, the Founding Fathers applied this phrase to all “persons” i.e., those with a rational soul.

Liberty

In theology, liberty and freedom, while related, have different meanings. Liberty is freedom, but with a stress on the person who enjoys or exercises freedom; it is the subjective power of self-determination. Freedom, strictly speaking, is the objective absence of constraint or coercion, notably with reference to civil society; internal or external. This power of the will is oriented to the good. We are made for the good and thus it is for this that the intellect is tasked with discerning what is “good.”

Declaration_independenceOur founding fathers also chose liberty over the word freedom. Perhaps that is because liberty resides in the will and is constituent to the definition of a person. Freedom is the extension of the person as he or she relates to society. To take it a step further in Catholic theology, St. Paul teaches us in Romans and his Epistle to Philemon that the Christian can experience liberty regardless of their state in life or their particular situation. Meaning, an oppressor can take away our freedom and subjugate a person but he or she cannot take away our liberty or ability to choose.

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Founding Fathers also seemed to be realists. They knew that happiness in this life was not guaranteed and could never be ensured. With a deeply Christian sentiment, they knew that we were destined for perfect beatitude in heaven. Even if we believe that happiness is guaranteed, experience teaches us differently.

Reviewing the Current Culture

It seems we find ourselves living during a time in which our culture is besieged with not only a misunderstanding of this phrase but also a rejection of our founding Christian values.

Life is being defined through a strictly utilitarian lens without a context. Since we have removed any notion of God out of our social consciousness, we have become the masters of all existence. The unborn are routinely aborted and Physician Aid in Dying (PAD) (technically euthanasia is illegal in the U.S.) is now legal in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Vermont. (Your state not listed? No worries, soon it will be coming to a state near you.)

Liberty has been redefined as the right to make any choice. In fact, it has also been relegated to external liberties and not the internal liberty that we call virtue. The freedom of the will, as we have already suggested, is oriented to the good. True liberty frees not only the individual but society and the environment. Liberty cannot be judged on the basis of self-interest otherwise it withers, dies, and becomes the very prison (internal and external) that liberty was meant to avoid.

The pursuit of happiness has become an experiment in hedonism. Over the last five years, I have been amused by the Colonial Williamsburg advertising spot that ends with our above-mentioned phrase EXCEPT that it removes the phrase, “pursuit of” happiness. Colonial Williamsburg has turned happiness into an inalienable right. Sadly, many find themselves with everything that money can buy, experienced every pleasure the body can afford, and pursued every adventure their mind could dream of. And still, they are unhappy.

A Future and a Hope

Our Lord reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11:

“I know well the plans I have in store for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for woe. Plans to give you a future and a hope.”

Our Lord created us for the good, the true and the beautiful. When every effort has been exhausted our souls are designed for THE good. God Himself.

How do we recover our culture? By fostering the virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance; submitting ourselves to the Gospel; practicing good citizenship and letting our hearts experience the liberty that may only be found in Christ Jesus.


[1] Lucas, “Justifying America, ” 85.

From the Office of Communications

**EDITOR’S NOTE: Bishop Paul S. Loverde today issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in the widely watched religious liberty case. This statement appears on the Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s website here.

(ARLINGTON, VA) – The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of ABishop Anniversaryrlington and spiritual leader of Northern Virginia’s nearly half million Catholics, made the following statement today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case:

Today’s decision seems to be very good news for Americans who wish to run their businesses without government coercion to violate their consciences by paying for coverage of sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives for their employees.  Catholic business owners and family businesses should not have to cede their religious liberty at the marketplace door, and today’s Supreme Court decision, though closely decided, provides reasonable and welcome relief.

As we observe this week the third annual Fortnight For Freedom, we can take real satisfaction in the Court’s ruling. But as I noted this past Saturday during the panel discussion with Catholic University of America President Dr. John Garvey and March for Life President Jeanne Monahan at our diocesan Religious Freedom Assembly, the government’s unprecedented HHS mandate remains a clear and unacceptable violation of religious liberty. Under the Obama Administration’s so-called accommodation for religious institutions, the funds used in the procurement of coverage for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives still come from religious employers and their employees.  Further, the administration’s mandate penalizes the Church for its long history of charitable works, targeting our colleges, hospitals, and other facilities that serve others regardless of their faith.

I urge the Catholics of the Diocese of Arlington to continue to pray, sacrifice, and advocate for religious freedom here at home and abroad. The Church and its related institutions must be free to provide health care coverage for their employees that is consistent with our religious and moral principles, and without the threat of government coercion.  Church institutions have provided healthcare and education to our fellow citizens since our nation’s founding. We have always supported health care services for all people, but pregnancy is not a disease, and the Church cannot abandon the dignity of the human person and submit to complicity in the destruction of innocent life. ### Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

**EDITOR’S NOTE: This column originally ran in the Arlington Catholic Herald (view it here). It serves as a reminder to us to continue praying for religious liberty, especially since the Diocese of Arlington will be celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom tomorrow, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Herndon. For more information, please see the Facebook event at on.fb.me/1lPC1PF. **

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More – Patron Saint of the Diocese of Arlington

Freedom to Serve is the theme for the third annual “Fortnight for Freedom,” June 21–July 4. I join my brother bishops in urging you to participate in this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action devoted to upholding religious freedom at home and abroad.

What does it mean to be truly free? Who or what can make us free? For whom are we seeking freedom this Fortnight? I suggest three emphases that can illuminate the meaning and significance of authentic religious freedom: truthfulness, heroic witness in Christ, and vigilance.

The Gospel of John relates that as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he was harassed by those who resisted the truth that He was revealing. Jesus assured those who believed in h
im: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn 8:32). Truth is not simply factual data. It is essential because it expresses what is in accord with the nature of persons, things, and actions as they really are. Jesus did not hesitate to tell the truth in love and chose to identify Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

In his series of audiences on Theology of the Body, Saint John Paul II explained how the opening chapter of Genesis celebrates the splendor of a free creation and the original design of God for human happiness. He describes what occurred when those at the fountainhead of humanity sinned, violating their relationship with God and one another. The effects reverberated throughout the world. Fundamentally, all sin is deceptive, seeming to promise happiness while undermining what is genuinely truthful and good. As Genesis relates, Adam and Eve, in their unhappy shame for what they had done, tried to lie even to God!

Whenever there is an attempt to subvert the truth about the reality of God, or the meaning of life and creation, freedom is lost. Respect for the true nature of people and things gives way to domination and the struggle to control people and events by force and legal fiats. Of ourselves, we cannot achieve or maintain freedom. We have just completed an intensified liturgical celebration of our Redemption in Jesus Christ and have sacramentally experienced how Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the life,” has indeed set us free.

The martyrs, and all who live a heroic witness to the truth in the midst of a world disfigured by sin, inspire and assist us as we enter the Fortnight for Freedom, which does not come without cost. We are accompanied by those who have been willing to suffer, even die, for the truths in Christ that make us free. Saint Paul encouraged the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).

How privileged we are to have Saint Thomas More the principal patron of our diocese! Under duress, he remained faithful to the truth of divine and ecclesial realities rather than yield to the force of an earthly king. Although condemned to death, Thomas More, like Christ, was truly free and faithful. After his sufferings in the Tower of London, Thomas joked with the man assigned to be his executioner, who would drop the sharp-edged blade on his neck. In a later age, the poet Paul Claudel, would honor such inner freedom in his admonition: “To mount the cross laughing.”

A third way to increase understanding of religious freedom is accurate knowledge of dangers to religious liberty in our nation and throughout the world. In a word — vigilance. Laws, mandates, and judges’ decisions are requiring actions that violate the truth of the human person and override principles of moral responsibility. For example, institutions and agencies that provide health care, serve immigrants, or enable the adoption of children are threatened with severe penalties or closure for refusing to perform services that violate the truths of sexuality and marriage. Business owners seeking exemptions from governmental directives that violate their consciences are facing crippling fines. Protecting religious freedom to be of service to others, especially to those who are in most need, without losing moral integrity, is urgently needed.

And so, as we once again mark these ongoing challenges with a Fortnight for Freedom, I urge you to participate in a tangible way, to inform yourselves, to advocate, to pray and to sacrifice. This is no small matter because our ability as Catholics to participate in civil society as full citizens is threatened, with directs impacts on the vital works of charity the Church performs. I am marking the Fortnight in a particular way on June 28th from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Joseph’s Church in Herndon, as I host a diocesan event explaining clearly our concerns regarding religious liberty and providing for intercessory prayer. Speakers include Catholic University of America President John H. Garvey in what promises to be an informative and meaningful gathering, and I urge you to join me if at all possible. We must be free to serve others as Jesus Christ has mandated us to do!

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