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A fragment on the True Cross on which Jesus was condemned to death / Daniel Ibanez/CNARome Newsroom, Aug 18, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).On Aug. 18, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Helena. The mother of Constantine the Great, St. Helena, is believed to have restored many sites in the Holy Land, where she discovered the cross on which Christ died and other relics from his Passion, some of which she brought back with her to Rome.These relics can still be venerated today, in Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.The basilica was originally a chapel designed by St. Helena to hold the relics of the True Cross found on Calvary. The chapel had been part of an imperial palace Constantine gave to his mother when he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople.The church has undergone many changes over time. One of the relics on display in the basilica's relic chapel was rediscovered inside a wall during a restoration in the 15th century after it had li...

A fragment on the True Cross on which Jesus was condemned to death / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Aug 18, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

On Aug. 18, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Helena. 

The mother of Constantine the Great, St. Helena, is believed to have restored many sites in the Holy Land, where she discovered the cross on which Christ died and other relics from his Passion, some of which she brought back with her to Rome.

These relics can still be venerated today, in Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.

The basilica was originally a chapel designed by St. Helena to hold the relics of the True Cross found on Calvary. The chapel had been part of an imperial palace Constantine gave to his mother when he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople.

The church has undergone many changes over time. One of the relics on display in the basilica's relic chapel was rediscovered inside a wall during a restoration in the 15th century after it had likely been hidden there during an earlier renovation in the 1100s.

The Titulus Crucis, the title panel of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. In Latin, Greek and Hebrew, it says "Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews." Daniel Ibanez
The Titulus Crucis, the title panel of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. In Latin, Greek and Hebrew, it says "Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews." Daniel Ibanez

The Titulus Crucis, Title of the Cross in Latin, was the wooden tablet hung on Christ's cross explaining the reason for his Crucifixion. In Greek, Latin, and Hebrew it says: "Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews."

It is believed the Titulus Crucis was brought to the basilica in the sixth century. Other relics now on display were similarly not part of the relics tradition says St. Helena brought to Rome in the 4th century.

After her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, St. Helena brought fragments of the True Cross, the cross on which Jesus died.

Relics of Christ's Passion in Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The central reliquary holds a nail used in Christ's Crucifixion. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Relics of Christ's Passion in Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The central reliquary holds a nail used in Christ's Crucifixion. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

She also brought one of the nails used in Christ's Crucifixion.

According to tradition, the Holy Stairs were also brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th century.

The Holy Stairs, also called the Scala Sancta, are held to be those which led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, and which Christ would have ascended on his way to the trial before his Crucifixion.

The stairs are near the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and were first opened to the public more than 400 years ago by Sixtus V.

The Holy Stairs in 2019, without their protective wood coverings. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
The Holy Stairs in 2019, without their protective wood coverings. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

So many pilgrims visited the stairs in the first century after they were opened to the public, the marble became worn down, creating deep furrows in the steps.

In 1724, Servant of God Benedict XIII covered the Holy Stairs in wood for their protection. They were uncovered for the first time in 2018, during a year-long restoration project — and in 2019, for a limited time visitors could venerate the marble steps without the wood coverings.

The Holy Stairs in 2019. The marble was uncovered temporarily as part of a restoration project. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
The Holy Stairs in 2019. The marble was uncovered temporarily as part of a restoration project. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

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Uyghur women work in a cloth factory in Hotan county, Xinjiang province, China. / Azamat Imanaliev/ShutterstockSt. Louis, Mo., Aug 17, 2022 / 14:54 pm (CNA).A new report from the United Nations on modern slavery provides further documentation of China's mistreatment of the Uyghur ethnic group, a Muslim minority that according to some human rights groups is suffering genocide. The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Dr. Tomoya Obokata, wrote that it is "reasonable to conclude" that forced labor among ethnic minorities, including the Uyghurs, "in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing has been occurring in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China."Obokata identified two state-mandated systems that have contributed to the forced labor of the Uyghurs, one of which is a system that detains minorities and subjects them to work placements, while the other system shifts rural laborers into other forms of low-skilled, low-paid work. While the Ch...

Uyghur women work in a cloth factory in Hotan county, Xinjiang province, China. / Azamat Imanaliev/Shutterstock

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 17, 2022 / 14:54 pm (CNA).

A new report from the United Nations on modern slavery provides further documentation of China's mistreatment of the Uyghur ethnic group, a Muslim minority that according to some human rights groups is suffering genocide. 

The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Dr. Tomoya Obokata, wrote that it is "reasonable to conclude" that forced labor among ethnic minorities, including the Uyghurs, "in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing has been occurring in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China."

Obokata identified two state-mandated systems that have contributed to the forced labor of the Uyghurs, one of which is a system that detains minorities and subjects them to work placements, while the other system shifts rural laborers into other forms of low-skilled, low-paid work. While the Chinese government claims that the programs provide work opportunities for minorities, the report found that "indicators of forced labor pointing to the involuntary nature of work rendered by affected communities have been present in many cases."

"Further, given the nature and extent of powers exercised over affected workers during forced labor, including excessive surveillance, abusive living and working conditions, restriction of movement through internment, threats, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment, some instances may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, meriting a further independent analysis," the report reads. 

In recent years, Uyghurs — with estimates ranging as high as 1.8 million — have been detained in hundreds of "reeducation camps" in China's Xinjiang, a sparsely populated autonomous region in the far west of the country. Inside the camps, the Uyghurs are reportedly subjected to torture and political indoctrination. Outside the camps, Uyghurs are monitored by pervasive police forces and facial recognition technology.

China has for years conflated the Uyghurs' culture and religious activities with extremism and separatism. The government at one time denied the camps even existed but has since shifted to defending its actions as a reasonable response to a national security threat.

The United States formally labeled China's actions in Xinjiang a genocide in Jan. 2021. 

China's crackdown on Xinjiang also includes alleged coercion to have contraception devices inserted, and even full sterilization, along with systematic rape. Hospitals in the province have reportedly committed forced late-term abortions on Uyghur women and killed newborn Uyghur babies to enforce China's family planning policies, according to a former hospital worker in the region. Uyghur women, who used to have among the highest fertility rates in the country, have seen precipitous drops in fertility in recent years. 

The Vatican has remained largely silent on the persecution of the Uyghurs, though Pope Francis did describe the Uyghurs as a persecuted people in a book published in 2021. The Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying that the claim was groundless.

Catholic leaders have condemned China's actions in Xinjiang, with two Asian cardinals and 74 other religious leaders releasing a statement in Aug. 2020 calling the Chinese government's treatment of Uyghurs "one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust."

The U.N. report documented several other forms of modern-day slavery in the report, including sexual slavery perpetrated by groups like ISIS and Boko Haram in the Middle East and Nigeria, and the plight of minority women and girls in the Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions of Ethiopia who have been "subjected to rape, sexual mutilation and other forms of sexual violence by parties to the armed conflict."

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Pro-lifers rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021. / Rena Schild via Shutterstock.Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).The three abortion clinics in Louisiana are leaving the state following the state's Supreme Court Aug. 12 decision that an abortion ban will remain in effect while it is being challenged in the judiciary.It is unclear when the clinics will have finished the process of leaving and where they will relocate, per a report from WWNO.Under Louisiana's trigger laws, abortions may be provided only when "necessary in reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman."The laws will continue to be challenged by the state's three abortion clinics: Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Women's Health Care Center in New Orleans, and Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge.The abortion ...

Pro-lifers rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021. / Rena Schild via Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The three abortion clinics in Louisiana are leaving the state following the state's Supreme Court Aug. 12 decision that an abortion ban will remain in effect while it is being challenged in the judiciary.

It is unclear when the clinics will have finished the process of leaving and where they will relocate, per a report from WWNO.

Under Louisiana's trigger laws, abortions may be provided only when "necessary in reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman."

The laws will continue to be challenged by the state's three abortion clinics: Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Women's Health Care Center in New Orleans, and Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge.

The abortion providers have argued the laws violate their due process and lack "required safeguards to prevent arbitrary enforcement," according to Fox News.

Once the clinics leave the state, Louisiana will have no abortion clinics for the first time since 1974, WWNO reported.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said Aug. 16 that the news of the clinics leaving the state marked a historic day.

"For the first time in almost 50 years, Louisiana will be free from businesses that exist to end the lives of precious unborn babies," he said. "These businesses will also no longer inflict emotional and physical damage on women in Louisiana."

"As they depart," Clapper added, "numerous other Louisiana public and private agencies will remain open to offer help to women and families both before and after birth. As these abortion facilities relocate, we are dedicated to helping other states in the Gulf Coast and across America defend life."

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A Traditional Latin Mass. / Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).Bishop Michael Burbidge offered some additional thoughts on the recent guidelines he issued restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington. The new restrictions were imposed following liturgical directives given by Pope Francis in July 2021."I think we accomplished our goals of showing fidelity to the Holy Father, to the Holy See, and [were] also mindful that we are still providing the celebration of this Mass throughout our diocese," Burbidge said on the diocese's "Walk Humbly Podcast" on Aug. 10.Effective September 8, Burbidge's directives allow eight parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. But only three of those parishes are allowed to continue offering the Extraordinary Form in their main church. The other five parishes may only celebrate the Latin Mass in other designated locations. The eight parishes are not allowed to...

A Traditional Latin Mass. / Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge offered some additional thoughts on the recent guidelines he issued restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington. The new restrictions were imposed following liturgical directives given by Pope Francis in July 2021.

"I think we accomplished our goals of showing fidelity to the Holy Father, to the Holy See, and [were] also mindful that we are still providing the celebration of this Mass throughout our diocese," Burbidge said on the diocese's "Walk Humbly Podcast" on Aug. 10.

Effective September 8, Burbidge's directives allow eight parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. But only three of those parishes are allowed to continue offering the Extraordinary Form in their main church. The other five parishes may only celebrate the Latin Mass in other designated locations. 

The eight parishes are not allowed to publish Latin Mass times in their bulletins, on their parish websites, or their social media channels, per the Vatican's requirements. Priests are allowed to continue celebrating the Mass ad orientem, which consists of facing the altar. This is not the case in the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington. 

Burbidge recognized that there was disappointment and disagreement in response to his implementation plan. He added that he is grateful to the priests of the diocese who have promised respect and obedience to him.

Burbidge offered a "respectful challenge as a spiritual father" and said that there are two different paths that can be followed when change occurs that one disagrees with. 

"One is that of anger and writing or calling or emailing without really thinking of the weight of the words that became somewhat hurtful, not only to me but to my staff who had to read such a tone," he said. 

The other path, he added, is to say, "'Wow. The Lord is giving me an opportunity to grow in holiness. Because I am letting go of my will here. I'm trusting that the Lord is at work in his church [and] that the Holy Spirit is guiding his church. It's not what I would do if I was the pope. It's not what I would do if I was the bishop. But I'm a faithful follower of Christ. And I trust that he is acting always through his church.'"

The second path leads to peace, he said.

The rules are meant to conform to the mandates Pope Francis published a little over a year ago in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, as well as more specific restrictions the Vatican issued in December.

There are few exceptions to the rule, established in Traditionis Custodes, that bishops must designate non-parish churches where the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated. But Burbridge said that he requested that three churches be able to host the Latin Mass within the main parish church and called the Holy See "very gracious" in its decision to approve.

Burbidge said that he intended to choose geographically convenient locations where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated so that it wouldn't be a hardship for Latin Mass-goers to attend. He added that the diocese is fortunate to have priests who are trained in celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass and noted that when assistance is needed to cover Mass times, those priests will be called upon to fill in.

Burbidge said that he hopes the faithful in the diocese understand that the process of implementation was purposely not rushed.

"Don't forget," he said, "the motu proprio was a year ago," adding that the pope's July 2021 directives were effective immediately and were followed by further guidelines in December.

"So, the Holy See was very patient, I think, with bishops saying, 'well, we need more time to get a better understanding of the use of the extraordinary form, Traditional Latin Mass, in our diocese to hear from the faithful, to hear from their pastors, to read both documents," he said. 

Burbidge said that his promise of fidelity and loyalty to the Holy Father was "key" when implementing the restrictions, but also mentioned that he prioritized being "mindful of those who find spiritual nourishment in the Traditional Latin Mass."

He also recommended reading the motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, the further guidance issued in December, and Pope Francis' most recent apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, Desiderio Desideravi.

Arlington is the latest reported diocese to implement Traditionis Custodes. Other dioceses and archdioceses that have recently done so are the Diocese of Savannah, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Archdiocese of Washington.

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (CNS) — Most students who have graduated from Virginia Tech with engineering degrees...

BLACKSBURG, Va. (CNS) — Most students who have graduated from Virginia Tech with engineering degrees are joining companies that pay them for their work.

Armed with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the university in Blacksburg, Maureen Fuller is joining a group that asks her to raise her own living expenses.

She’s happy to do it because she believes it’s the path God has set for her and her husband, Alex — to use their talent for infrastructure design to help people in other countries.

“Some people are called to use their professional gifts at work and bring Christian values to their office and industry, and then on the side do ministry work, whatever they’re called to in their spiritual lives and share that with others,” Maureen told The Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Richmond Diocese.

“But I especially have felt very called to use the education and engineering services that I’ve been blessed to learn to also share the Gospel,” she added in an interview ahead of her plans to head to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to begin a two- to three-year fellowship with Engineering Ministries International, or EMI.

The nonprofit Christian organization that sends architects, engineers, surveyors and other professionals to design and build hospitals, schools and water systems in developing countries.

The first Catholic accepted for the fellowship program, Maureen’s interest is designing water and sanitation projects. Over the next 18 months or so she’ll work toward her engineering license, observe and assist on current projects, and take bible study and theology courses. Then, she and Alex will most likely work overseas.

Raised a Catholic in Northern Virginia, Maureen was active in her parish — Nativity Catholic Church in Fairfax County — throughout high school: singing in a youth choir, taking a mission trip to Haiti and even serving as one of two youth representatives on the parish council in her senior year.

“I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I wanted to connect service, education and faith,” she said. “But in high school, when I was discerning what college to go to or what I wanted to major in, it was definitely in my mind that I want to pursue something that leads to service. My late pastor always said that we should serve across the street and around the world, and I’ve really taken that to heart.”

Virginia Tech had the right combination of courses, social life and Catholic campus ministry that she wanted.

The university’s honors college recruited her, provided some scholarship money and a chance for a fellowship that would allow her to “expand on my course knowledge and combine engineering education with language study, cultural immersion and some other goals that the honors college wanted students to pursue.”

Maureen found an organization in the Dominican Republic she wanted to work with and was all set to go when their offer fell through. Though disappointing, she now sees it as “a God moment.” She found EMI through a fellow student and did her honors internship through them in Nicaragua.

“It was so much better than I ever could have anticipated for wanting to combine engineering and service because I also got to incorporate faith,” she said. “I had an amazing experience. I really felt such a purpose in my work there, just 10 weeks in Nicaragua, but I felt like everything that I had been learning and seeking before then was all fulfilled.”

That experience has led to this other opportunity with EMI.

Although she has considered some of the Catholic organizations that work in developing countries, she found their focus was on faith formation, education or health care, “which is wonderful,” but stayed with EMI because it was “one of the few Christian organizations or nonprofits in general that focus specifically on engineering design services.”

A native of Hampton, Virginia, Alex grew up in a nondenominational church and after high school worked for a skydiving company. He always liked taking things apart — though he’s “a lot better now at putting things back together”– and decided to pursue engineering, enrolling in a community college program that guaranteed admission to Virginia Tech.

“It did make me realize I wanted to use my gifts and talents to serve others, and I think that’s what we’re called to do no matter what field we’re in,” he said.

He met Maureen through a salsa dancing club at Virginia Tech. She asked him to go to Sunday Mass, and as they spent more time together, their relationship deepened as they found they shared the same personal, professional and spiritual interests. They were married July 24, 2021, at St. Mary Church in Blacksburg.

The Virginia Tech motto, “Ut Prosim” (“That I may serve”) is etched in their wedding bands.

“Whether you’re religious or not, that’s a very important value to develop,” Maureen said. “But because we do have the goal of sharing the Gospel, ‘that I may serve’ has really turned into ‘that I may serve the Lord through serving others.'”

Alex has gone through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults but is still discerning if he wants to join the Catholic Church, but he joins Maureen for Sunday Mass.

After joining Maureen for the initial orientation at EMI in Colorado, he planned to return to Blacksburg to finish the research project for his master’s degree. Since he’s not in the fellowship program, he’ll be working on his own and may do some volunteer work on EMI projects. But wherever Maureen is eventually assigned — she hopes to return to Nicaragua — he’ll be going, too, since the organization wants couples to serve together.

“We are a team; we do want to pursue this together in the same location as much as possible, but we will make it work,” Maureen said.

After the Masses one weekend in July at Our Lady of Nazareth Church in Roanoke, Virginia, Maureen shared the journey they’re on and asked for support. As she talked with people leaving church, many were eager to meet a young couple aiming to live out the words of the closing hymn they had just sung: “God has chosen me, God has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.” And good design.

– – –

Editor’s Note: Anyone who would like to contact the Fullers can reach them at Maureen.Fuller@emiworld.org.

– – –

Staniunas writes for The Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Diocese of Richmond.

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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Amid a persistent call for calm by the country’s Catholic bishops,...

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Amid a persistent call for calm by the country’s Catholic bishops, Kenya is remaining largely peaceful even as one of the main contenders for the presidency rejected the election results.

William Ruto, Kenya’s current deputy president, was declared president-elect Aug. 15 after anxious and tense moments while votes were counted. The 55-year-old political leader, a onetime chicken trader, was elected in Aug. 9 polls that observers described as calm and peaceful.

But Aug. 16 his main challenger, Raila Odinga, an engineer, rejected the results.

“We have commenced the process of reaching out to the key political actors. … It is our hope and prayers that these engagements will promote justice, peace and prosperity,” Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa said Aug. 17 during a news conference called by religious leaders.

For many Kenyans, history appeared to repeat itself. While citizens have long voted peacefully, losing candidates for the presidency have repeatedly rejected the outcome as either rigged or marred by irregularities, triggering postelection violence and mass protests.

“I think Kenyans are getting used to this pattern. In the future, they will not care to vote. Voter apathy is on the rise,” said Father Joachim Omollo Ouko, an Apostle of Jesus priest in the western Archdiocese of Kisumu.

While the bishops have been deeply concerned about the potential for postelection violence, this year they are confident that calm will continue.

“We are not anticipating a repeat of the violence, but we have to keep urging the people to remain calm. Any small wrong action can act as a trigger. We had a very peaceful and calm voting process. We must maintain that,” Bishop Joseph Mwongela of Kitui told Catholic News Service.

“We are telling those who are disputing the outcome to follow the legal process. No one should take the law in their hands,” he said.

“We must live together as Kenyans. The international community is watching,” the bishop added.

In the postelection violence pattern, scores were killed when the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2017 vote. The Supreme Court of Kenya later nullified the result.

The most deadly postelection violence occurred between December 2007 and February 2008 when an estimated 1,200 people died in two months of ethnic fighting. The violence ignited after the late Emilio Kibaki was declared the winner and Odinga rejected the outcome as rigged.

“2022 was quite different. It appears the people are more enlightened and things went well. I can say it was a good election. I attribute this partly to prayers and peace messaging of the religious leaders,” said Father Nicholas Makau, a Consolata Missionary priest.

Odinga said challenged the final tally, describing it as “null and void” and must be quashed by a court of law.

“In our view, there is neither a legally and validly declared winner nor a president-elect,” Odinga told a news conference while urging Kenyans to remain peaceful as he sought justice through legal means.

However, Father Makau said Kenyans, after voting in what they consider an open and transparent manner, were open to hearing any evidence of wrongdoing that may be presented.

“Every Kenyan is keen to hear his evidence. They are waiting anxiously,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ruto has promised to serve all Kenyans in spite of how they voted. He also has said he will not seek revenge.

“We need all hands on the deck. We do not have the luxury to look back. We do not have the luxury to point fingers, we have to work together for a prosperous Kenya,” he said soon after being declared president-elect.

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DEARBORN, Mich. (CNS) — For centuries, Renaissance art has captivated and penetrated many hearts and...

DEARBORN, Mich. (CNS) — For centuries, Renaissance art has captivated and penetrated many hearts and souls.

Christine Panyard, a retired psychologist of 43 years and a parishioner at the Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn, is no stranger to the transformative effects religious art can have on the soul.

In her new book, “Stalking Michelangelo, Finding God,” from Wipf and Stock Publishers, Panyard shows how the truth, goodness and beauty vividly present in these sculptures and paintings, which depict God and the grandeur of his creation, transformed her from a “very lapsed” Catholic to one on fire for her faith.

Feeling called by the Holy Spirit to share her spiritual journey with others, Panyard wrote “Stalking Michelangelo” and included in her book her award-winning photographs of Renaissance art from all over the world.

For her, it all began with Michelangelo.

“I’ve always loved travel and history and became fascinated, probably obsessed, with Renaissance art and especially Michelangelo,” Panyard, 75, told Detroit Catholic, the online news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit. “I read everything I could get my hands on and traveled all over the world in an attempt to understand his work and the roots of his greatness.”

Panyard explained that, as a psychologist, she studied personality and intelligence levels. She was curious and wanted to know “what made this genius tick.”

This would lead her to encounter Christ through a medium in which she never encountered him before: art.

“I was impressed by the grandeur of (Michelangelo’s) work,” Panyard said. “He created the most impressive building in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica, the most beautiful statue in the world, the Rome Pietà, and the most glorious frescoes ever seen, the ceiling and altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.”

While gazing at Michelangelo’s masterpieces, Panyard realized she could not truly understand Michelangelo’s genius unless she understood the biblical stories and themes present not only in Michelangelo’s art, but also in many other Renaissance artists’ works.

“When I began my study, I didn’t understand many of the stories depicted in Renaissance art, so I started reading the Bible to be able to make sense of the paintings and sculptures,” Panyard explained.

As a result, she not only began studying Scripture but also spent countless hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

While some Renaissance art is on display in museums, Panyard explained that a majority can be found in churches, such as the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. It was while in these churches, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, that Panyard first began to feel God’s grace working on her soul.

“What I noticed were what I called weird, crazy, bizarre, strange, psychotic experiences,” Panyard said. “I would go into churches and the organist would begin to play or monks would start chanting. I would get to sites in time to see an ordination, the anniversary celebration for a cardinal or even Pope Benedict celebrating a Mass to canonize a group of saints.”

When she was in a museum, she said, she never felt similar experiences.

She attributes the difference to the presence of Jesus — body, blood, soul and divinity — in the Eucharist. “I believe that the power of the Blessed Sacrament changed me and brought me back to church,” Panyard said.

“I started to notice that I was praying more. At first just a Sign of the Cross when I entered a church or a short prayer before the tomb of someone from that era I admired. Then, I started showing up just as a rosary or Mass was starting,” she explained.

“Slowly, without me noticing, I was transformed from being a very lapsed Catholic to a member of a Secular Discalced Carmelite community,” Panyard said.

Panyard hopes to make her definitive promises in the Secular Discalced Carmelite community at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish in Detroit in January 2024. She made her temporary promises in January 2021.

In her new book, Panyard explains her spiritual journey using the metaphor of a Gothic cathedral.

“Gothic cathedrals usually have a large square in front of the church. It is usually surrounded by businesses and was the center of activity in the town,” she writes. “For many years I lived outside the church spending my life in professional and social pursuits. I wandered around like a pilgrim might wander around outside a cathedral trying to understand what the buttresses, gargoyles and sculptural programs meant.

“I finally went inside to study art,” she continues. “I walked around inside and developed an understand(ing) of baptismal and holy water fonts as places of purification, confessionals as places of reconciliation, art as illustrations of the basis of our faith, and finally to the altar the place of sacrifice and redemption.”

Thanks to her reconversion, Panyard said, “I no longer focus on pain and perversion as I did as a psychologist, but focus on beauty and spirit.”

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De La Torre writes for Detroit Catholic, the online news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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A Traditional Latin Mass. / Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).Bishop Michael Burbidge offered some additional thoughts on the recent guidelines he issued restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington. The new restrictions were imposed following liturgical directives given by Pope Francis in July 2021."I think we accomplished our goals of showing fidelity to the Holy Father, to the Holy See, and [were] also mindful that we are still providing the celebration of this Mass throughout our diocese," Burbidge said on the diocese's "Walk Humbly Podcast" on Aug. 10.Effective September 8, Burbidge's directives allow eight parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. But only three of those parishes are allowed to continue offering the Extraordinary Form in their main church. The other five parishes may only celebrate the Latin Mass in other designated locations. The eight parishes are not allowed to...

A Traditional Latin Mass. / Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge offered some additional thoughts on the recent guidelines he issued restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington. The new restrictions were imposed following liturgical directives given by Pope Francis in July 2021.

"I think we accomplished our goals of showing fidelity to the Holy Father, to the Holy See, and [were] also mindful that we are still providing the celebration of this Mass throughout our diocese," Burbidge said on the diocese's "Walk Humbly Podcast" on Aug. 10.

Effective September 8, Burbidge's directives allow eight parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. But only three of those parishes are allowed to continue offering the Extraordinary Form in their main church. The other five parishes may only celebrate the Latin Mass in other designated locations. 

The eight parishes are not allowed to publish Latin Mass times in their bulletins, on their parish websites, or their social media channels, per the Vatican's requirements. Priests are allowed to continue celebrating the Mass ad orientem, which consists of facing the altar. This is not the case in the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington. 

Burbidge recognized that there was disappointment and disagreement in response to his implementation plan. He added that he is grateful to the priests of the diocese who have promised respect and obedience to him.

Burbidge offered a "respectful challenge as a spiritual father" and said that there are two different paths that can be followed when change occurs that one disagrees with. 

"One is that of anger and writing or calling or emailing without really thinking of the weight of the words that became somewhat hurtful, not only to me but to my staff who had to read such a tone," he said. 

The other path, he added, is to say, "'Wow. The Lord is giving me an opportunity to grow in holiness. Because I am letting go of my will here. I'm trusting that the Lord is at work in his church [and] that the Holy Spirit is guiding his church. It's not what I would do if I was the pope. It's not what I would do if I was the bishop. But I'm a faithful follower of Christ. And I trust that he is acting always through his church.'"

The second path leads to peace, he said.

The rules are meant to conform to the mandates Pope Francis published a little over a year ago in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, as well as more specific restrictions the Vatican issued in December.

There are few exceptions to the rule, established in Traditionis Custodes, that bishops must designate non-parish churches where the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated. But Burbridge said that he requested that three churches be able to host the Latin Mass within the main parish church and called the Holy See "very gracious" in its decision to approve.

Burbidge said that he intended to choose geographically convenient locations where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated so that it wouldn't be a hardship for Latin Mass-goers to attend. He added that the diocese is fortunate to have priests who are trained in celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass and noted that when assistance is needed to cover Mass times, those priests will be called upon to fill in.

Burbidge said that he hopes the faithful in the diocese understand that the process of implementation was purposely not rushed.

"Don't forget," he said, "the motu proprio was a year ago," adding that the pope's July 2021 directives were effective immediately and were followed by further guidelines in December.

"So, the Holy See was very patient, I think, with bishops saying, 'well, we need more time to get a better understanding of the use of the extraordinary form, Traditional Latin Mass, in our diocese to hear from the faithful, to hear from their pastors, to read both documents," he said. 

Burbidge said that his promise of fidelity and loyalty to the Holy Father was "key" when implementing the restrictions, but also mentioned that he prioritized being "mindful of those who find spiritual nourishment in the Traditional Latin Mass."

He also recommended reading the motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, the further guidance issued in December, and Pope Francis' most recent apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, Desiderio Desideravi.

Arlington is the latest reported diocese to implement Traditionis Custodes. Other dioceses and archdioceses that have recently done so are the Diocese of Savannah, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Archdiocese of Washington.

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis dedicated his general audience talk to the urgent need...

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis dedicated his general audience talk to the urgent need for young and old to come together so older people can share their faith and wisdom about the world.

“Let’s think about dialogue, about the alliance between old and young,” he said, as well as make sure this bond is not broken. “May the elderly have the joy of speaking, of expressing themselves with young people and may young people seek out the elderly to receive the wisdom of life from them.”

It was an appeal one small boy in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall seemed to take to heart, walking past the guards and straight up to the pope to stand transfixed by his side during the final greetings at the audience’s end.

The pope affectionately rubbed the boy’s close-cropped hair and reassured him he was welcome to stay.

“During the audience we talked about dialogue between old and young, right? And this one, he has been brave and he’s at ease,” the pope said about his small guest to applause.

The pope continued his series of talks on old age and reflected on how reaching a ripe old age is a reassurance of eternal life in heaven.

In fact, “the image of a God, who is watching over everything with snow-white hair, is not a silly symbol, it is a biblical image, it is a noble image, even a tender image,” the pope said. To depict God the Father as venerable in age and authority “expresses God’s transcendence, his eternity and his constant care for this world and its history,” the pope’s talk said.

The vocation for every older man and woman, the pope said, is to bear witness to the faith and to the wisdom acquired over the years.

“The witness of the elderly is credible to children. Young people and adults are not capable of bearing witness in such an authentic, tender, poignant way, as elderly people can,” the pope said.

He said it is also very compelling when the elderly bless life as it comes their way and show no resentment or bitterness as time marches on and death nears.

“The witness of the elderly unites the generations of life, the same with the dimensions of time: past, present and future, for they are not only the memory, they are the present as well as the promise,” the pope said.

“It is painful and harmful to see that the ages of life are conceived of as separate worlds, in competition among themselves, each one seeking to live at the expense of the other. This is not right,” he said.

An alliance between the elderly and young people “will save the human family,” he said. “There is a future where children, where young people speak with the elderly. If this dialogue does not take place between the elderly and the young, the future cannot be clearly seen.”

Humanity, even with all its progress, still seems “to be an adolescent born yesterday,” which needs “to retrieve the grace of an old age that holds firmly to the horizon of our destination.”

Death is a very difficult passage in life, the pope said, but it “concludes the time of uncertainty and throws away the clock,” ushering in “the beautiful part of life, which has no more deadlines.”

During the last part of the general audience, when the pope offers special greetings to those attending from different parts of the world, the pope reaffirmed his prayers for Ukraine, asking that people not forget “this martyred people.”

There was also a brief interruption during the greetings when a Swiss guard, who was standing behind one of the language speakers, fell face forward, dropping his halberd. Two men from security assisted him in standing back up and another Swiss guard took his place.

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PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — On warm nights, Father Paulinus Mangesho sleeps in a back room,...

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — On warm nights, Father Paulinus Mangesho sleeps in a back room, lest stray bullets pierce the rectory walls.

Immaculate Heart Church, one of the most historic houses of worship in Portland, stands tall and graceful on what has become the city’s most dangerous block.

The sidewalks are an open-air market for crack cocaine, prostitution and settling scores. Gunfire has left pock marks on Immaculate Heart’s soaring steeple.

The church is across from Dawson Park, home to diurnal picnickers and nocturnal ne’er-do-wells. Since the pandemic, those in the drug trade have spilled boldly across the street, setting up lawn chairs alongside Immaculate Heart.

“All this is affecting my parish,” said Father Mangesho, a 64-year-old Tanzanian missionary who came to Oregon in 2014.

Father Mangesho insists that Immaculate Heart must remain at this troubled spot as a blessing to the neighborhood.

“If someday we are not here, the Catholic Church will have failed and the devil will have won the war,” the priest told the Catholic Sentinel, Portland’s archdiocesan newspaper.

Sandy Hansen has lived near Dawson Park for a decade. She’s fed up.

“The park is ridiculous,” Hansen said. “You get hailed to buy drugs. Then in front of your house you see more drugs. People doing drugs are leaning up against the church.”

Mass attendance at Immaculate Heart began to shrink in the 1980s and now is down to a single Mass in English and another in Vietnamese. The street often is clogged with cars, the drug dealers doing business through rolled-down windows. Parishioners sometimes are forced to drive around the block to access the church. Sellers approach them as potential customers.

“People are sometimes reluctant to pass through that to go to Mass,” said Francis McBride, a parishioner since 1965 and chairman of the church administrative council.

Starting in 2020, the block saw frequent shootings, including one fight with semi-automatic weapons. Among the dead was a car-share driver picking up a passenger.

Msgr. Charles Lienert lived at Immaculate Heart as a new priest in the late 1960s and returned as pastor in the 1980s. He recalls Dawson Park as a family destination that also was home to harmless older alcoholics.

But by the 1980s prostitutes began to linger on the church steps and gangs claimed local territory. Danger escalated. Msgr. Lienert witnessed a fatal shooting in 1988 and knows matters have only gotten worse.

“It’s harder now, more complex and larger,” Msgr. Lienert said, adding that a single parish can’t do much about the problems on its own, but can form alliances.

But there are complications with potential partners. The neighborhood has gone through heavy gentrification. New residents tend not to be churchgoers, so institutions like Immaculate Heart that once helped unify locals have been weakened by lack of membership.

Father Mangesho is disappointed that police come only if someone is shot and don’t help solve problems before they lead to violence. At one point during the racial justice tensions of 2020, police told parish staff that Dawson Park was a “hands off” zone, lest interventions spark riots. At the same time, many officers resigned.

“The Portland Police Bureau is facing a critical staffing shortage with just 329 patrol officers to work 24/7 in three precincts,” said Terri Strauss, the bureau’s public information director. “We are doing what we can to respond to 911 calls, but the proactive policing is much more difficult.”

In addition, some neighborhood leaders cast police as oppressors and discourage them from coming to the area. Father Mangesho recalled that one officer left after neighbors came to chase her away.

“Thanks to the neglect we’ve seen around Dawson Park, three people have been murdered and all but our elderly neighbors have moved out in the past 18 months,” said Andrew Champion, who lives just down the street from Immaculate Heart. “We are hanging by a thread over here and absolutely nothing is being done about it.”

Ali Hardy, longtime staffer at Immaculate Heart, grew up in the neighborhood. She speaks with the groups who set up alongside the church, telling them she disagrees with their behavior. But she treats them with Christian kindness, giving them water when temperatures climb, for example.

“They are still our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Hardy said, recalling one drug user who dug into his pocket to donate $5 to the church.

“We need to be more out there,” she said. “It is an awkward unfortunate space right now. It is very, very complicated, and God is in charge of the very, very complicated. This is an opportunity for prayer for the neighborhood, for our brothers and sisters who have been trapped in the enemy’s snares, whether it be about the drug addiction, the drug sales or the poverty. It’s an opportunity to evangelize. And that’s what we’re called to do, right?”

Despite the problems, the neighborhood is home to residents who display goodwill and even joy.

Bill Russel has lived near the church for 75 years, with the exception of a stint as a Marine in Vietnam. He knows the district has problems, but he loves it anyway and seems to be everyone’s friend and spiritual mentor.

“It’s all under the control of God,” said Russel, a shiny crucifix hanging around his neck. He does his best to be a good influence for young Black men and leaves the rest in God’s hands. In case there is a need for blessing or healing, Russell carries a spray bottle full of holy water from Immaculate Heart.

Elizabeth Stansberry, a nighttime security guard, lives just across the street. She adores the parish, especially the food pantry crew.

“With all the crime going on, this is such a bright spot,” Stansberry said, adding that if people had basic needs met more thoroughly, drug use and crime would wane. “This neighborhood is amazing. It’s not a lost cause.”

– – –

Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

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