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Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, Saint Francis Prayer: Prayer of the Day for Friday, July 12, 2024

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to ...

St. John Gaulbert, Abbot: Saint of the Day for Friday, July 12, 2024

Saint John Gaulbert, Abbot - Feast day is July 12th The city of Florence gave to the world Saint John Gaulbert. Although he enjoyed the benefits of an early Christian education, his youthful heart was soon attracted to the vanities of the world. A painful incident was the means God made use of, to open his eyes. Hugo, his only brother, had been murdered and St. John had resolved to avenge his death. On a certain Good Friday he met his enemy in a place where there was no escape for the latter. ...

St. John Gaulbert, Abbot: Saint of the Day for Friday, July 12, 2024

Saint John Gaulbert, Abbot - Feast day is July 12th The city of Florence gave to the world Saint John Gaulbert. Although he enjoyed the benefits of an early Christian education, his youthful heart was soon attracted to the vanities of the world. A painful incident was the means God made use of, to open his eyes. Hugo, his only brother, had been murdered and St. John had resolved to avenge his death. On a certain Good Friday he met his enemy in a place where there was no escape for the latter. ...

Daily Readings for Friday, July 12, 2024

Reading 1: Hosea 14:2-10, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:8-9, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:12-14, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:17, Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23

Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, Saint Francis Prayer: Prayer of the Day for Friday, July 12, 2024

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to ...

Pro-life roundup: Arkansas abortion amendment disqualified

Abortion supporters celebrate as petitions for the abortion amendment arrive at the Arkansas Capitol Building on July 5, 2024. On Wednesday, July 10, Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston rejected a pro-abortion group’s request to add a far-reaching abortion amendment proposal to the November 2024 ballot. / Credit: Courtesy of Family Council in Arkansas

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 11, 2024 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

Here’s a roundup of abortion-related developments that took place in the U.S. this week. 

Arkansas disqualifies abortion amendment

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston rejected a pro-abortion group’s request to add a far-reaching abortion amendment proposal to the November ballot because the group did not follow the proper procedure when submitting signatures.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented that the development showed that “the far-left pro-abortion crowd in Arkansas” are “both immoral and incompetent.”

Thurston notified Arkansans for Limited Government, the group behind the proposal, in a letter sent on Wednesday.

The group claimed to have gathered over 100,000 signatures — well over the 90,700 required to add an amendment proposal to the ballot. Thurston, however, said the group failed to identify its paid canvassers or to indicate that the canvassers had followed state law regarding gathering signatures.

Additionally, Thurston said that after subtracting the signatures invalidly obtained by paid canvassers the group only had 87,382 signatures, more than 3,000 short of the minimum required signatures.

“The first part of our review is to ensure that the sponsor has complied with all statutory requirements for submitting a petition. Because you failed at this first step, it is my duty to reject your submission,” Thurston wrote.

Arkansans for Limited Government has denied that it failed to meet the requirements and said it “will fight this ridiculous disqualification attempt with everything we have.” 

Currently, Arkansas protects unborn life beginning at conception, only allowing abortion in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger.

If successfully passed by Arkansas voters, the abortion amendment would mandate that the state not “prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict” abortion before 18 weeks of pregnancy. The amendment would further prohibit the state from restricting abortion at all stages in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or health of the mother.

Republicans block effort to enshrine Roe v. Wade

Senate Republicans blocked a bill titled the Reproductive Freedom for Women Act that would have expressed support for enshrining Roe v. Wade into federal law.

The record vote on Wednesday was 49 in favor and 44 against, meaning the measure fell well short of the 67-vote supermajority required for passage. All but two Republicans — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins — voted against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who brought the measure to a vote, was vocal about the vote, claiming: “Senate Republicans told every woman in America: ‘Your body. Our choice’” and that “once again stood with the MAGA extremist anti-freedom agenda.”

Trump calls North Dakota pro-life law ‘an issue’

As speculation swirls about Donald Trump’s new vice president pick, the former president criticized North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum for signing a “heartbeat” law that protects unborn life past six weeks of pregnancy.

Speaking on Fox News Radio on Wednesday, Trump emphasized his belief that abortion is a “states issue” but went on to say that Burgum signing a six-week abortion ban is “a little bit of an issue.”

“It’s a pretty strong ban; I think Doug is great,” Trump said, “but he has taken a very strong stance, or the state has, I don’t know if it’s Doug, but the state has, so it’s an issue.”

Arizona abortion supporters sue state for using term ‘unborn human’

Arizona for Abortion Access, the group behind the effort to add a broad abortion amendment proposal to the November ballot, is suing the state for its use of the term “unborn human being” in a pamphlet to be distributed to voters at the polls.

In its suit, filed in the Arizona Superior Court on Wednesday, the group says that the use of the term “unborn human being” demonstrates impartiality because it is “tinged with partisan coloring,” “frequently used by anti-abortion activists,” and is “rooted in anti-abortion advocacy.”

Instead, Arizona for Abortion Access argued that the word “fetus” would be a “neutral, objective, and medically accurate term” to use in voter materials.  

The Arizona secretary of state’s office is currently verifying the signatures submitted by Arizona for Abortion Access to add the amendment proposal to the ballot. If successful, the amendment would invalidate the state’s law protecting unborn life at 15 weeks as well as most of the state’s pro-life laws.

20,000 attend Mass marking 50th anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way in U.S.

The Mass was celebrated at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. / Credit: Gregory A. Shemitz, courtesy DeSales Media Group

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 11, 2024 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

More than 20,000 people participated in a Sunday, July 7, Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way in the United States. The Eucharist was celebrated by the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Cardinal Christophe Pierre, and held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

A news brief from the Neocatechumenal Way sent to ACI Prensa, CNA’S Spanish-language news partner, said that the Mass was in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1974 visit to New York by the initiators of this apostolate, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández.

Participating in the Mass were thousands of young people from different parts of the United States who arrived in Brooklyn after having made several days of pilgrimage to shrines and holy places in the country.

“At the end of the liturgy, about 1,000 young men rose up to show they are entering a seminary to begin their preparation for the priesthood; another 1,500 young women stood up to express their desire to give their lives to Christ by entering a convent or as missionaries,” the news brief highlighted.

Although Argüello did not attend the Mass in person, he joined the celebration with a video call from Madrid, Spain.

He recalled how in 1974 he visited several parish priests in New York from a list given to him by the then-archbishop, Cardinal Terence Cooke, and how only the last of the priests he met agreed to start a community of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Pierre’s homily

“On this significant anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way in the United States, I greet you on behalf of Pope Francis and reaffirm his support and appreciation for the work that the Way does in the service of evangelization,” the prelate said at the beginning of his homily.

Next, the cardinal recalled what the Holy Father told the members of the apostolate in 2018 in Italy: “Your charism is a great gift from God for the Church of our time. Let us thank the Lord for these 50 years.”

After recalling the importance of going out to find “the lost sheep,” the nuncio recalled that “Pope Francis often speaks of opening the doors to people who live in all the situations of moral poverty, to those who have strayed from God, and accompany them back. It is necessary for the Church to open a way back. Is there a way back from addiction, from violence, from despair? God can make a way where it seems impossible.”

“There is a thirst for God that secularization cannot satisfy … This is the mission of the Church: to open the door for sinners to return,” he stressed.

The French cardinal also said that “our failures prepare us for the mission, so that we won’t judge the sins of others: Only those who have experienced the power of grace can show sinners the way back to God.”

Accompanying Pierre at Mass were Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, with Auxiliary Bishops Michael Saporito and Elias Lorenzo; Bishop Robert Brennan of Brooklyn with Auxiliary Bishop James Massa and Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn; and other American bishops, in addition to about 300 priests.

In the United States there are 1,100 communities, in addition to hundreds of families on mission.

There are also nine Redemptoris Mater diocesan seminaries, where 300 seminarians are now preparing for the priesthood and a total of 270 priests have already completed their formation. The seminaries are in Newark, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Denver; Dallas; Brooklyn, New York; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Miami; and Philadelphia.

What is the Neocatechumenal Way?

The Neocatechumenal Way, a July 3 statement notes, was “officially approved by the Holy See in 2008, not as an association or movement, but as a post-baptismal catechumenate, as an instrument to help parishes and dioceses in the work of evangelization.”

The Neocatechumenal Way is present in 135 countries with some 25,000 communities, making a total of more than 1 million members.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Uncovered Sins

A thief broke into a phone repair shop, smashed the glass of a display case, and began pocketing phones and more. He tried to conceal his identity from the surveillance camera by covering his head with a cardboard box. But during the burglary, the box briefly tipped, uncovering his face. Minutes later, the store owner saw the video footage of the robbery, called the police, and they arrested the robber outside a nearby store. His story reminds us that every hidden sin will be uncovered one day.

It's human nature to try to hide our sins. But in Ecclesiastes we read that we should keep God’s commandments for every hidden thing will be brought before His righteous gaze and just verdict (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The author wrote, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (v. 13). Even the hidden things which the Ten Commandments rebuked (Leviticus 4:13) won’t escape His evaluation. He’ll bring every deed into judgment, whether good or evil. But, because of His grace, we can find forgiveness for our sins in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf (Ephesians 2:4-5).

When we’re conscious of and internalize His commandments, it can lead to a reverent fear of Him and a lifestyle to match. Let’s bring our sins to Him and experience anew His loving, forgiving heart.

Diocese of Toledo to pay $1 million to three priest sex abuse victims

Rosary Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio. / Credit: Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 11, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The Diocese of Toledo will pay out a seven-figure sum to three victims of priest sexual abuse after agreeing to a settlement.

The payout will go to victims of disgraced priest Michael Zacharias, who was convicted on five counts of sex trafficking by a federal jury in Ohio last May. His crimes, committed between 1999 and 2020, involved three victims, two of whom were minors when Zacharias began abusing them.

Konrad Kircher, a Cincinnati-area attorney who represented the victims, told CNA on Thursday that he was pleased with the results, which he called “a success” for his clients.

“My clients were the three victims who testified in Zacharias’ case,” he said via phone. “When the criminal trial was over, I contacted the Diocese of Toledo and asked them to consider compensating my clients for what they had been through, otherwise I would proceed with a lawsuit.”

The diocese responded by establishing an “Independent Healing and Reconciliation Program” for the three victims, Kircher said. “Those have been done around the country for large pools of clients,” he noted.

The compensation amount was ultimately decided following recommendations from two judges were were appointed as independent administrators of the process.

“The two judges were compassionate, thorough, and analytical,” he said. “They interviewed my clients about the abuse; it was a very cathartic experience [for the victims].”

Kircher declined to comment on the payout amount, though the Toledo Blade this week reported that the amount was “just over $1 million” for the three victims.

Toledo diocesan spokeswoman Kelly Donaghy, meanwhile, declined to comment on the matter. 

“The Diocese of Toledo will not comment on any outreach work or activities related to any abuse victims as their privacy and healing is of the utmost priority to us,” she told CNA via email on Thursday. 

Zacharias was sentenced to life in prison in November. He had faced a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

The convicted sex offender was subsequently laicized by Pope Francis in March of this year after a request from the Toledo Diocese. The dismissal from the clerical state removed the priest’s ability to licitly execute the functions of the priesthood, except in the extreme situation of encountering someone who is in immediate danger of death.

Zacharias reportedly began grooming some of his underage victims while still a seminarian at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Toledo, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said last year. 

The ex-priest “used his affiliation and position of authority to groom the boys and grow close with their families,” the DOJ last year, “before ultimately coercing the victims into engaging in commercial sex acts and manipulating the opioid addictions they developed.”

Asked if the Toledo Diocese was planning to extend the reconciliation program to any other priest abuse victims, Kircher said he was “hopeful.”

“I don’t know what their intentions are,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it was a success. I hope they extend that success to other victims.”

The St. Benedict medal: a defense against demonic attacks

Portrait of St. Benedict (1926) by Herman Nieg (1849–1928); Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria; “Exorcism of St. Benedict,” by Spinello Aretino, late 14th century. / Credit: Public Domain

National Catholic Register, Jul 11, 2024 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Temptations in a fallen city, memories of a beautiful woman, a poisoned chalice, the attacks of an envious priest, curses from a pagan priest, a rock that won’t budge, another that falls on a young monk, a kitchen in flames, a dragon that lurks to devour a fleeing monk, threats from Gothic warlords, and the prospect of a destroyed monastery.

St. Benedict, whose feast the Catholic Church celebrates on July 11, endured constant attacks from the enemy throughout his life. The life of a monk only heightens the constant spiritual warfare we all face in the Christian life.

In fact, Benedict even had to use force to manifest his authority as abbot over his monks oppressed by the enemy, as related in Father Robert Nixon’s newly compiled and translated book “The Cross and Medal of Saint Benedict: A Mystical Sign of Divine Power” (TAN, 2024):

“Benedict found this monk outside wandering around aimlessly when he should have been in the oratory in prayer. With a certain degree of paternal severity and charitable discipline, he reprimanded him for his lack of wisdom and discernment and struck him with his staff. At this, the monk fell down, motionless. And after that, the devil ... never troubled him again. It was as if the staff of Benedict had not struck the hapless monk but had rather driven away the wicked tempter himself!” (p. 14).

St. Benedict has come to be recognized for the power of his actions against the enemy, alongside St. Michael, as a major protector against evil, particularly through the medal that bears his image.

Nixon’s book offers an overview of how the medal rose to prominence as a Catholic devotion and received papal approval, couching it within the story of St. Benedict’s life and the rise of his order of monks.

If you’ve seen the back of a St. Benedict medal, you may have noticed a series of letters. The first set is arranged in and around the shape of the cross: C S P B C S S M L N D S M D. The next set is arranged in a circle around the cross: V R S N S M V S M Q L I V B.

This arrangement first came to serious attention in the year 1647 in relation to the Benedictine Abbey of Metten in Bavaria when it prevented a series of diabolic attacks. Although some of the laity already had medals with these letters engraved, no one at the time understood their meaning. It was only in researching the library’s manuscripts that a 15th-century illustration of St. Benedict pointed to the full prayer they abbreviated:

“Cross of our Holy Father Benedict. May the cross be light to me. May the dragon not be a leader to me. Get behind me, Satan: Never persuade me to vain things. What you like is evil; may you yourself drink your venom!” 

Due to a widespread story of the medal preventing the effect of curses and bringing about exorcisms and healings, which Nixon details in his book, its use spread across Europe, with Pope Benedict XIV approving an official blessing for it and granting it indulgences in 1741.

The great father of modern Benedictine monasticism, Dom Prosper Guéranger, speculated why God would grant so many favors to those who invoke his help through St. Benedict’s medal. In an age when “rationalism is so rife,” God has deigned to offer help to those “who put their confidence in the sacred signs marked on the medal” with “strong and simple” faith (Guéranger, “The Medal or Cross of St. Benedict,” author’s preface). It’s as if to laugh at the devil and his plans to pull people away from God through the alleged sophistication of the modern world, overcoming them with simple signs pointing us to the cross and the protection of a holy monk.

Of course, the medal should not be used in a superstitious way. It expresses our faith and confidence in God, which conquers the power of the enemy through the blood of Christ. Within God’s plan of salvation, there are certain key defenders of God’s people. St. Benedict proved himself as one over his own monks in spiritual combat. Through the efficacy of his medal, he has manifested himself as a fatherly defender of all who invoke his help. 

Throughout history, the monastic life has served as a constant beacon calling us to greater conversion of life and prayer. Turning to St. Benedict can lead us to embrace some of his spiritual principles, such as humility, obedience, stability, hospitality, the prayerful reading of Scripture in “lectio divina,” and viewing our work as a means of honoring God.

Wearing the medal

If you would like to purchase a St. Benedict medal or a rosary with the medal affixed, crafted by Benedictine monks, you can visit the gift shop at Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma. The monks can bless the medal with the approved blessing after purchase, if you request it in the order notes. 

Medals are also available at EWTNRC.com.

This story was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA's sister news partner, and has been adapted by CNA.