Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pray for peace on earth

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
 – Luke 2:13-14

Madonna del Sacro Monte di Viggiano
Today, January 1, is the celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Church also celebrates today the 44th World Peace Day.

The statue of the Madonna del Sacro Monte di Viggiano is displayed in St. Peter's Basilica during the Mass on this day. It is one of many Black Madonnas which is venerated by the Catholic Church.
I am very dark, but comely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
like the curtains of Solomon.
 – Song of Solomon 1:5
The Madonna of Viggiano seems to be based on the more famous Virgen de Montserrat in Spain, affectionately known as "La Moreneta" – roughly translated this means "the dark-skinned one".

La Virgen de Montserrat

Today, also, Pope Benedict XVI issued his Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace. He titled it "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace". The Pope has highlighted recently the persecution of Christians around the world. There are the examples of violence like what has been occurring in Iraq, but there are also the attacks on religious freedom in the name of secular humanism which are occurring in the more "liberal" societies. These actions are sometimes cleverly disguised as affirmations of various human rights, when they are actually designed to attack one of the most fundamental human rights which is the right of freedom of religion.

Here are some excerpts from the Pope's message, "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace".
Among the fundamental rights and freedoms rooted in the dignity of the person, religious freedom enjoys a special status. When religious freedom is acknowledged, the dignity of the human person is respected at its root, and the ethos and institutions of peoples are strengthened. On the other hand, whenever religious freedom is denied, and attempts are made to hinder people from professing their religion or faith and living accordingly, human dignity is offended, with a resulting threat to justice and peace.
Each person must be able freely to exercise the right to profess and manifest, individually or in community, his or her own religion or faith, in public and in private, in teaching, in practice, in publications, in worship and in ritual observances. There should be no obstacles should he or she eventually wish to belong to another religion or profess none at all.
The world needs God. It needs universal, shared ethical and spiritual values, and religion can offer a precious contribution to their pursuit, for the building of a just and peaceful social order at the national and international levels.

Peace is a gift of God and at the same time a task which is never fully completed. A society reconciled with God is closer to peace, which is not the mere absence of war or the result of military or economic supremacy, much less deceptive ploys or clever manipulation. Rather, peace is the result of a process of purification and of cultural, moral and spiritual elevation involving each individual and people, a process in which human dignity is fully respected. I invite all those who wish to be peacemakers, especially the young, to heed the voice speaking within their hearts and thus to find in God the stable point of reference for attaining authentic freedom, the inexhaustible force which can give the world a new direction and spirit, and overcome the mistakes of the past.
[NOTE: It is very saddening that the Catholic Bishops in the United States seem to have been afflicted by the secular spirit and have decided not to recognize as a separate Holy Day the celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1. Their thinking seems to be that most American Catholics will not be interested in taking time out of their busy week to attend Mass on a Saturday. This is unfortunate. I hope that in the future the Bishops will show leadership in this matter, rather than acquiescing to the most lackadaisical desires of the laity.]


  1. A Holiday Thought...

    Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

    So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

    Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

    ~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~


    Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: &

    "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." ~ Genesis 1:29

  2. – Matthew 15:10-20

    And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."

    Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"

    He answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

    But Peter said to him, "Explain the parable to us."

    And he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man."

    "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."


    "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." 1 Timothy 4:1-3

    (That last quote from St. Paul could easily by applied to today's New Age vegetarians and "free sex" advocates who don't believe in marriage. The source of all of this confusion is the denial of Christ.)