Saturday, December 08, 2007

Helio and Julianne vids

GMA - DWTS with finalist Helio & Julianne - Part 1 of 3


GMA - DWTS with finalist Helio & Julianne - Part 2 of 3


GMA - DWTS with finalist Helio & Julianne - Part 3 of 3


The View with DWTS finalist Helio & Julianne


ET - Life After with Dancing with the Stars 11-29-07


Insider - Life After with Dancing with the Stars 11-29-07


Helio & Julianne on Rachael Ray, part 1


(Megaupload)
Helio & Julianne on Rachael Ray, part 2

2 from Counterpunch

When One's World Turns Upside Down

Bush, Iran and the Politics of Doomsday

By Col. DAN SMITH


Sprawl and the Credit Crisis

Will the Free Market Kill Suburbia?

By ALAN FARAGO

Rod Dreher, Pawpaw's World

Pawpaw's World
What is manly virtue? Are you embarrassed to ask? He doesn't have to.

BY ROD DREHER
Friday, June 15, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT

Thoughts on children and teaching

Comments by niece #1 while she was watching stations of the cross on EWTN with my mom:
"Jesus has boo boos."
"Mama Mary is crying."
"Jesus is sleeping."
"Jesus is going up going up."

And then my mom was reading more from the bible.
"Adam and Eve yai yai (naughty)."
"Joseph waa waa (crying)."
"Joseph have a lot of food. Bread."
"Joseph share food with them [his father and brothers]."

Last night after I picked up my mom at the airport we headed over to Millbrae to meet KK and her husband. She picked Cafe Salina (650-692-2662) from the various Chinese restaurants that were there. Not a bad choice! I ordered congee because I had a craving for it, partly because of the cold. It was good, though I don't think it was as good as the congee at Congee Queen. (But still better than anything in the South Bay. Why can't we get decent Cantonese chefs down here? There may be some at the more expensive restaurants...)

Versus is a waste of time. Good thing I was correcting homework and doing other things while it was playing. It is also good that I didn't spend money on the dvd.

I was thinking yesterday... how many of the 5th and 6th graders I taught 12 years ago are now moms? Or became moms while they were in their teens? And have their literacy skills improved since 6th grade?

The daughter of one of the teachers at the school must be in college already.

If I were 7 and had me as a sub, what would I think of a sick teacher constantly shouting at some of the students? Perhaps it cannot be helped--is there another way to maintain discipline? I had to move some of the students around, and separated 3 boys from the rest of the class. One of them is really annoying--he has this smirk on his face constantly, especially after I've told him to sit down or I've put a check by his name.

Undoubtedly having less students means I can give more 1-on-1 instruction to the students and adjust according to their weaknesses and help them improve in those areas. Is there a more effective way to help 20 students gain the necessary skills in grammar, math, reading, and writing?

Do they really need to learn how to be original at this stage? Or would it be better to have them copy grammatically correct sentences? What sort of approach would a school having adopted the trivium take with respect to writing and grammar?

Teaching shouldn't be about the money, but can be difficult to motivate one's self to follow through on one's concern for a student's progress, especially if he is busy trying to get students to stop being a distraction or nuisance to others, not when the daily pay is barely above $100.


From Sandro Magister:
Cardinal Kasper's Ecumenism: Truth Above All

The complete text of the address delivered at the consistory by the president of the pontifical council for Christian unity. Good progress with the Orthodox, bad with the mainline Protestants, so-so with the "evangelicals" and Pentecostals. And meanwhile, with the Muslims...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Varia, 7 December 2007

Kim Tae-hee Puts Up 'Fight' Against Critics
LG Turns Up Audio Profile With New Music Phone
LG Electronics on Thursday released a music phone developed as a "hand-held audio system." The Rhapsody in Music phone is the first creation by audio engineer Mark Levinson since the company brought him in as a special consultant. The new phone features a navigating touch wheel for song browsing, sweep spot selection and volume control.

Korean TV Series Breaks New Ground in Japan

Speed Racer trailer

here, via AICN

What would my brother-in-law, the MD's brother, make of this?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Photos: Zhang Zilin



In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, Miss China Zhang Zilin performs during the 57th Miss World Competition in Sanya of south China's Hainan Province, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007. Zhang was honored the title of best model. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhao Yingquan)

Miss World

official website

The winner, Miss China, Zhang Zilin.







Chinas Zhang Zi Lin, celebrates after winning the Miss World beauty pageant contest in Sanya, Hainan island province, China, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007.
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)


Zhang Zilin of China is crowned as the 2007 Miss World in the finals of the Miss World Beauty Pageant at the Beauty Crown Theatre in Sanya. Pre-contest favourite Zhang won the Miss World 2007 title in her own country, much to the delight of the audience, in front of an estimated two billion viewers around the globe.

(AFP/Mark Ralston)

Zhang Zilin of China poses as she receives the Best Model award during the finals of the Miss World Beauty Pageant at the Beauty Crown Theatre in Sanya. Zhang won Miss World 2007 in Sanya much to the delight of a partisan audience.

(AFP/Mark Ralston)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Miss World Pageant contestant Zhang Zilin of China poses for photos at Yalong Bay in Sanya. Two billion people around the globe were expected to tune in when more than 100 of the world's most beautiful and talented women vie to become Miss World 2007.
(AFP/Mark Ralston)

My mother thought she won for political reasons. I think she is attractive enough to merit the crown, but it's just a beauty pageant, right? Just wait until the Summer Olympics roll around...

Miss Korea, Cho Eun-Ju:

Miss Korea Eun-Ju Cho reacts after winning the Design award during the Miss World peagent 2007 in Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan December 1, 2007.
REUTERS/ Nir Elias (CHINA)



(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Miss Korea Eun-Ju Cho talks on her phone on her way to the last rehearsal for the Miss World Pageant in Sanya, Hainan Island province November 30, 2007. The Miss World Pageant contest will be held on Saturday at the Sanya tourist resort.
REUTERS/ Nir Elias (CHINA)

Miss Korea Eun-Ju Cho poses for a photo by the poolside in Sanya, Hainan Island province November 29, 2007. The Miss World pageant takes place on Saturday at the Sanya tourist resort.
REUTERS/ Nir Elias (CHINA)

(AFP/Mark Ralston)

Miss Korea Cho Eun-Ju (L) and Miss Mongolia Oyungerel Gankhuyag pose with Olympic mascots during the "Miss World" media event in Beijing November 19, 2007. The 2007 Miss World Final will be held on the 1st of December in Sanya, southern China.
REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV (CHINA)

(I think she looks a bit... fake.)

Orthodox Patriarch Says Unity an Obligation

Orthodox Patriarch Says Unity an Obligation
Sends Message to Vatican on Feast of St. Andrew

Bartholomew I's Letter to Vatican Delegation

Benedict XVI's Letter to Bartholomew I"Our Work Toward Unity Is According to the Will of Christ Our Lord"

Fr. Cantalamessa: The Virgin Without Sin

The Virgin Without Sin
Gospel Commentary for Feast of Immaculate Conception




By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, DEC. 6, 2007 ( Zenit.org).- With the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Church affirms that Mary, on account of a singular privilege bestowed by God and in view of the merits of Christ's death, was preserved from contracting the stain of original sin and came into existence already completely holy.

Four years after being defined by Pope Pius IX, this truth was confirmed by the Madonna herself at Lourdes in an apparition to Bernadette with the words: "I am the Immaculate Conception."

The feast of Mary Immaculate reminds humanity that there is only one thing that truly lowers man -- sin. It is a very urgent message to repeat. The world has lost the sense of sin. We joke as if it were the most harmless thing in the world. The world presents its products and spectacles as sinful to make them more attractive. It talks about sin, even the gravest sins, in terms of endearment: peccadilloes, little vices, etc. The expression "original sin" is used in the advertising world to indicate something very different from the Bible: A sin that confers a bit of originality on the one who commits it!

The world is afraid of everything but sin. It is afraid of pollution, the obscure maladies of the body, nuclear war, terrorism; but it is not afraid of the war against God, who is the eternal; the all-powerful; love. Jesus says, however, not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but only of him who after he has killed has the power to cast into Gehenna (cf. Luke 12:4-5).

This way of thinking exercises a tremendous influence even on believers who want to live according to the Gospel. It produces a sleep of conscience in them, a kind of spiritual anesthesia. There is a drug that skews our understanding of sin. The Christian people no longer recognize its true enemy, the master that enslaves it; this is because what we have is a gilded slavery.

Many who speak of sin no longer have an entirely adequate idea of it. Sin becomes depersonalized and is projected only onto institutions; we end up identifying sin with the position of our own political and ideological adversaries. An investigation about what people think sin is would probably have frightening results.

Instead of liberation from sin, all efforts today are focused on liberation from regret over sin; instead of fighting against sin we fight against the idea of sin, replacing it with something very different, namely, "guilt feelings." We do precisely that which in every other sphere is considered the worst thing of all, that is, we deny the problem rather than resolve it, we push back and bury evil in the unconscious instead of removing it.

It is similar to believing that we can eliminate death by eliminating the thought of death, or worrying about bringing down the fever rather than curing the sickness when the fever is only a providential revelatory symptom of the sickness. St. John says that if we claim to be without sin, then we deceive ourselves and we make God a liar (cf. 1 John 1:8-10); God, in fact, says the contrary, he says that we have sinned.

Scripture says that Christ "died for our sins" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3). If you take away sin, then Christ's redemption itself is made futile, you have destroyed the meaning of his death. Christ would then have been tilting at windmills, he would have spilled his blood for nothing.

But the dogma of Mary Immaculate also tells us something very positive: God is stronger than sin and where sin abounds grace abounds even more (cf. Romans 5:20).

Mary is the sign and guarantee of this. The whole Church, after her, is called to become "glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, that she might be holy and immaculate" (Ephesians 5:27). A text of the Second Vatican Council says: "But while in the Most Holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she is without spot or wrinkle, the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin. And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues" ("Lumen Gentium," 65).

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

* * *

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception are Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Photos: Miss World




Miss World Pageant contestant Zhang Zi Lin of China waves to fans at Yalong Bay resort in Sanya, Hainan, China, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007. Zhang will compete in the Miss World final held in the southern resort city of Sanya later in the day. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Ingrid Marie Rivera

Sarge's new girlfriend--he wishes.

Miss Puerto Rico Ingrid Marie Rivera Santos, second runner up to Miss World, walks down steps shortly after becoming a choice from her region in the Caribbean at the Miss World contest in the coastal resort of Sanya, China, in this Dec. 10, 2005 file photo. Rivera, beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel, File)

Ingrid Marie Rivera reacts after being named semi-finalist during the Miss Puerto Rico 2008 beauty contest in San Juan, Friday, Nov. 23, 2007. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (AP Photo/Ricardo Diaz Serrano)

Ingrid Marie Rivera, right, poses after being crowned by Uma Blasini, Miss Puerto Rico 2007, as the new Miss Puerto Rico Universe in San Juan, Friday, Nov. 23, 2007. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (AP Photo/Ricardo Diaz Serrano)



Ingrid Marie Rivera smiles during a beauty pageant in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Friday, Nov. 23, 2007. Rivera, beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (AP Photo/Ricardo D Serrano)




Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2008 Ingrid Marie Rivera gets makup applied before a fashion show in Santo Domingo, Monday, Nov.26, 2007. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

swimsuit 1, 2

The Story of Stuff

The Story Of Stuff: free video unmasks consumer culture
Annie Leonard, Story of Stuff
A new short film released today online takes viewers on a provocative tour of our consumer-driven culture — from resource extraction to iPod incineration — exposing the real costs of this use-it and lose-it approach to stuff.

Short guide (compiled by EB editor)
The video seems to start when you log on to the website:www.storyofstuff.com
Otherwise you can watch the 20-minute film as a series of seven YouTube segments starting with:www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqZMTY4V7Ts&feature=user
Other good material on the website: 10 Little and Big Things You Can
Do

Facts from The Story of Stuff (PDF)
Referenced and Annotated Script (PDF)
Glossary (PDF)


website

Steve Andrews, Remembering and learning from a legend

Remembering and learning from a legend
Steve Andrews, ASPO-USA
Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject of peak oil, died suddenly and unexpectedly on October 30 of a heart attack. During this century he spoke out and wrote early and often about the subject of peak oil and its looming consequences.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Zenit: Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
"Where Christ Is, There Is His Kingdom"



VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily of Benedict XVI for the Mass of the consistory for the elevation of new cardinals, held Nov. 25 in St. Peter's Basilica, the feast of Christ the King.

* * *

Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, the crown of the liturgical year, is enriched by the acceptance into the College of Cardinals of 23 new members whom, according to tradition, I have invited to concelebrate the Eucharist with me today. I address to each one of them my cordial greeting, which I extend with fraternal affection to all the Cardinals present. I am also pleased to greet the delegations from various countries and the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See; the numerous Bishops and priests, the men and women Religious and all the faithful, especially those from Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral guidance of some of the new Cardinals.

The liturgical Feast of Christ the King gives our celebration an especially significant background, outlined and illuminated by the Biblical Readings. We find ourselves as it were facing an imposing fresco with three great scenes: at the centre, the Crucifixion according to the Evangelist Luke's account; on one side, the royal anointing of David by the elders of Israel; on the other, the Christological hymn with which St Paul introduces the Letter to the Colossians. The whole scene is dominated by the figure of Christ, the one Lord before whom we are all brothers and sisters. The Church's entire hierarchy, every charism and ministry, everything and everyone are at the service of his Lordship.

We must begin from the central event: the Cross. Here Christ manifests his unique Kingship. On Calvary two opposite attitudes confront each other. Some figures at the foot of the Cross as well as one of the two thieves address the Crucified One contemptuously: If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, they say, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Jesus reveals instead his own glory by remaining there on the Cross as the immolated Lamb. The other thief unexpectedly sides with him, and he implicitly confesses the royalty of the innocent, just One and implores: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power" (Lk 23: 42). St Cyril of Alexandria comments: "You see him crucified and you call him King. You believe that he who bears scoffing and suffering will reach divine glory" (Comment on Luke, Homily 153). According to the Evangelist John, the divine glory is already present, although hidden by the disfiguration of the Cross. But also in the language of Luke, the future is anticipated in the present when Jesus promises the good thief: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23: 43). St Ambrose observes: "He prayed that the Lord would remember him when he reached his Kingdom, but the Lord responded: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. Life is being with Christ, because where Christ is, there is his Kingdom" (Exposition of the Gospel according to Luke, 10, 121). The accusation: "This is the King of the Jews", written on a tablet nailed above Jesus' head thus becomes the proclamation of the truth. St Ambrose further notes: "The writing is correctly placed above the Cross, because even though the Lord Jesus was on the Cross, yet his royal majesty shone from the height of the Cross" (ibid., 10, 113).

The Crucifixion scene in the four Gospels constitutes the moment of truth when the "veil of the Temple" is torn and the Holy of Holies appears. The maximum revelation of God possible in this world occurs in Jesus Crucified, because God is love and the death of Jesus on the Cross is the greatest act of love in all of history. Well then, on the Cardinal's ring that I will consign in a few moments to the new members of the Sacred College is portrayed precisely the Crucifixion. This, dear new Cardinal-Brothers, will always be an invitation for you to remember of what King you are servants, on what throne he has been raised and how he has been faithful to the end in overcoming sin and death with the power of divine mercy. Mother Church, Spouse of Christ, gives you this symbol in memory of her Spouse, who loved her and gave himself up for her (cf. Eph 5: 25). Thus, wearing the Cardinal's ring, you are constantly called to give your life for the Church.

If we now cast a glance at the scene of the royal anointing of David presented in the First Reading, an important aspect on royalty strikes us, namely, its "corporative" dimension. The elders of Israel go to Hebron, they seal a covenantal pact with David, declaring to consider themselves united to him and wanting to be one only with him. If we relate Christ to this image, it seems to me that this same covenantal profession applies very well precisely to you, dear Cardinal-Brothers. You too who form the "senate" of the Church can say to Jesus: "Behold, we are your bone and flesh" (II Sam 5: 1). We belong to you, and we want to be one only with you. You are the Shepherd of the People of God, you are the Head of the Church (cf. II Sam 5: 2). In this solemn Eucharistic celebration we want to renew our pact with you, our friendship, because only in this intimate and profound relationship with you, Jesus, our King and Lord, does the dignity that has been conferred upon us and the responsibility it bears have sense and value.

There now remains for us to admire the third part of our "triptych" that the Word of God places before us: the Christological hymn of the Letter to the Colossians. First of all, we make the sentiments of joy and gratitude that pour forth from it our own, for the fact that the Kingdom of Christ, the "inheritance of the saints in light", is not only something seen from a distance but a reality in which we are called to partake, into which we have been "transferred", thanks to the redemptive action of the Son of God (cf. Col 1: 12-14). This graced action opens St Paul's soul to the contemplation of Christ and his ministry in its two principal dimensions: the creation of all things and their reconciliation. The first aspect of Christ's Lordship consists in the fact that "all things were created through him and for him... in him all things hold together" (Col 1: 16-17). The second dimension centres on the Paschal Mystery: through the Son's death on the Cross, God has reconciled every creature to himself, has made peace between Heaven and earth; raising him from the dead he has made him the firstborn of the new creation, the "fullness" of every reality and "head of the [mystical] body", the Church (cf. Col 1: 18-20). We find ourselves again before the Cross, the central event of the mystery of Christ. In the Pauline vision the Cross is placed within the entire economy of salvation, where Jesus' royalty is displayed in all its cosmic fullness.

This text of the Apostle expresses a synthesis of truth and faith so powerful that we cannot fail to remain in deep admiration of it. The Church is the trustee of the mystery of Christ: She is so in all humility and without a shadow of pride or arrogance, because it concerns the maximum gift that she has received without any merit and that she is called to offer gratuitously to humanity of every age, as the horizon of meaning and salvation. It is not a philosophy, it is not a gnosis, even though it also comprises wisdom and knowledge. It is the mystery of Christ, it is Christ himself, the Logos incarnate, dead and risen, made King of the universe. How can one fail to feel a rush of enthusiasm full of gratitude for having been permitted to contemplate the splendour of this revelation? How can one not feel at the same time the joy and the responsibility to serve this King, to witness his Lordship with one's life and word? In a particular way this is our duty, venerable Cardinal-Brothers: to proclaim the truth of Christ, hope of every person and the entire human family. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, my Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, have been authentic heralds of Christ's royalty in today's world. And it is for me a motive of consolation to be able to always count on you, both collegially and individually, to bring to fulfilment with me the Petrine Ministry's fundamental duty.

In conclusion, I would like to mention an aspect that is strongly united to this mission and that I entrust to your prayer: peace among all Christ's disciples, as a sign of the peace that Jesus came to establish in the world. We have heard the great news of the Christological hymn: it pleased God to "reconcile" the universe through the Cross of Christ (cf. Col 1: 20)! Well then, the Church is that portion of humanity in whom Christ's royalty is already manifest, who has peace as its privileged manifestation. It is the new Jerusalem, still imperfect because it is yet a pilgrim in history, but able to anticipate in some way the heavenly Jerusalem. Lastly, we can here refer to the Responsorial Psalm 121, belonging to the so-called "Song of Ascents". It is a hymn of the pilgrims' joy who, going up toward the holy city and having reached its doors, address the peace-greeting to them: shalom! According to popular etymology Jerusalem is interpreted as a "city of peace", whose peace the Messiah, Son of David, would have established in the fullness of time. We recognize in Jerusalem the figure of the Church, sacrament of Christ and of his Kingdom.

Dear Cardinal-Brothers, this Psalm expresses well the ardent love song for the Church that you certainly carry in your hearts. You have dedicated your life to the Church's service, and now you are called to assume in her a duty of utmost responsibility. May the words of the Psalm find full acceptance in you: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem"! (v. 6). Prayer for peace and unity constitutes your first and principal mission, so that the Church may be "solid and compact" (v. 3), a sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 1). I place, or rather, let us all place your mission under the vigilant protection of the Mother of the Church, Mary Most Holy. To her, united to her Son on Calvary and assumed as Queen at his right hand in glory, we entrust the new Cardinals, the College of Cardinals and the entire Catholic community, committed to sowing in the furrows of history Christ's Kingdom, the Lord of Life and Prince of Peace.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Zenit: Benedict XVI's Address to Korean Bishops

Benedict XVI's Address to Korean Bishops
"Asia Has Given the Church and the World a Host of Heroes"



VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to the bishops of the Korean episcopal conference and Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

* * *

Dear Brother Bishops,

"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 Jn 4:16). With fraternal greetings I welcome you, the Bishops of Korea and the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, and I thank the Most Reverend John Chang Yik, President of the Episcopal Conference, for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf. I warmly reciprocate them and assure you, and those entrusted to your pastoral care, of my prayers and solicitude. As servants of the Gospel, you have come to see Peter (cf. Gal 1:18) and to strengthen the bonds of collegiality which express the Church's unity in diversity and safeguard the tradition handed down by the Apostles (cf. "Pastores Gregis," 57).

The Church in your countries has made remarkable progress since the arrival of missionaries in the region over four hundred years ago, and their return to Mongolia just fifteen years ago. This growth is due in no small part to the outstanding witness of the Korean Martyrs and others throughout Asia who remained steadfastly faithful to Christ and his Church. The endurance of their testimony speaks eloquently of the fundamental concept of communio that unifies and vivifies ecclesial life in all its dimensions.

The Evangelist John's numerous exhortations to abide in the love and truth of Christ evoke the image of a sure and safe dwelling place. God first loves us and we, drawn towards his gift of living water, "constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God" ("Deus Caritas Est," 7). Yet Saint John also had to urge his communities to remain in that love, for already some had been enticed by the distractions which lead to interior weakness and eventual detachment from the communio of believers.

This admonition to remain in Christ's love also has a particular significance for you today. Your reports attest to the lure of materialism and the negative effects of a secularist mentality. When men and women are drawn away from the Lord's dwelling place they inevitably wander in a wilderness of individual isolation and social fragmentation, for "it is only in the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear" ("Gaudium et Spes," 22).

Dear Brothers, from this perspective it is evident that to be effective shepherds of hope you must strive to ensure that the bond of communion which unites Christ to all the baptized is safeguarded and experienced as the heart of the mystery of the Church (cf. "Ecclesia in Asia," 24). With their eyes fixed on the Lord, the faithful must echo anew the Martyrs' cry of faith: "we know and believe the love God has for us" (1 Jn 4:16). Such faith is sustained and nurtured by an ongoing encounter with Jesus Christ who comes to men and women through the Church: the sign and sacrament of communion with God and of unity among all people (cf. "Lumen Gentium," 1). The gateway to this mystery of communion with God is of course Baptism. This sacrament of initiation, far more than a social ritual or welcome into a particular community, is the initiative of God (cf. Rite of Baptism, 98). Those reborn through the waters of new life enter the door of the universal Church and are drawn into the dynamism of the life of faith.

Indeed, the profound importance of this sacrament underscores your growing concern that not a few of the numerous adults received into the Church in your region every year fail to maintain a commitment to "the full participation in liturgical celebrations which is ... a right and obligation by reason of ... Baptism" ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," 14). I encourage you to ensure, especially through a joyous mystagogia, that the "flame of faith" is kept "alive in the hearts" (Rite of Baptism, 100) of the newly baptized.

The word communio also refers of course to the Eucharistic centre of the Church as Saint Paul eloquently teaches (cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17). The Eucharist roots our understanding of the Church in the intimate encounter between Jesus and humanity and reveals the source of ecclesial unity: Christ's act of giving himself to us makes us his body. The commemoration of Christ's death and resurrection in the Eucharist is the "supreme sacramental manifestation of communio in the Church" ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia," 38) whereby local Churches allow themselves to be drawn into the open arms of the Lord and strengthened in unity within the one Body (cf. "Sacramentum Caritatis," 15).

Your programmes designed to highlight the importance of Sunday Mass should be infused with a sound and stimulating catechesis on the Eucharist. This will foster a renewed understanding of the authentic dynamism of Christian life among your faithful. I join you in urging the laity -- and in a special way the young people in your region -- to explore the depth and breadth of our Eucharistic communion. Gathered every Sunday in the Lord's House, we are consumed by Christ's love and truth and empowered to bring hope to the world.

Dear Brothers, consecrated men and women are rightly recognized as "witnesses and artisans of that plan of communion which stands at the centre of history according to God" (Vita Consecrata, 39). Please assure the men and women Religious in your territories of my appreciation of the prophetic contribution they are making to ecclesial life in your nations. I am confident that, faithful to their essential nature and respective charisms, they will bear bold witness to the specifically Christian "gift of self for love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, of every member of the human family" (ibid., 3).

For your own part, I encourage you to ensure that Religious are welcomed and supported in their efforts to contribute to the common task of spreading God's Kingdom. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Church's history is surely her schools of spirituality. By articulating and sharing these living treasures with the laity, Religious will do much to enhance the vibrancy of ecclesial life within your jurisdictions. They will help to dispel the notion that communion means mere uniformity as they witness to the vitality of the Holy Spirit enlivening the Church in every generation.

I wish to conclude by briefly reiterating the importance of the promotion of marriage and family life in your region. Your efforts in this field stand at the heart of the evangelization of culture and contribute much to the well-being of society as a whole. This vital apostolate, in which many priests and Religious are already engaged, rightly belongs also to the laity. The growing complexity of matters regarding the family -- including the advances in biomedical science about which I spoke recently to Korea's Ambassador to the Holy See -- raises the question of providing appropriate training for those committed to working in this area. In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to the valuable contribution made by the Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family Life now present in many parts of the world.

Lastly, dear Brothers, I ask you to convey to your people my particular gratitude for their generosity to the universal Church. Both the growing number of missionaries and the contributions offered by the laity are an eloquent sign of their selfless spirit. I am also aware of the practical gestures of reconciliation undertaken for the well-being of those in North Korea. I encourage these initiatives and invoke Almighty God's providential care upon all North Koreans. Throughout the ages, Asia has given the Church and the world a host of heroes of the faith who are commemorated in the great song of praise: Te martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus. May they stand as perennial witnesses to the truth and love which all Christians are called to proclaim. With fraternal affection I commend you to the intercession of Mary, model of all disciples, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and the priests, Religious, and lay faithful of your Dioceses and Prefecture.

[Original text: English]

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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