Angelus News | December 15, 2023 | Vol. 8 No. 25

On the cover: “The Adoration of the Shepherds,” by 16th-century Dutch artist Marcellus Coffermans, depicts the joyous conclusion of a complicated mission: finding a place for Jesus to be born. On Page 10, Angelus contributor Theresa Cisneros takes a deep look at the often overlooked Mexican Christmas tradition of Las Posadas and how celebrating them invites us to make room for the Savior in our own lives.

On the cover: “The Adoration of the Shepherds,” by 16th-century Dutch artist Marcellus Coffermans, depicts the joyous conclusion of a complicated mission: finding a place for Jesus to be born. On Page 10, Angelus contributor Theresa Cisneros takes a deep look at the often overlooked Mexican Christmas tradition of Las Posadas and how celebrating them invites us to make room for the Savior in our own lives.


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The quest to find a place<br />

for Jesus this Christmas<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 8 <strong>No</strong>. <strong>25</strong>

B • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>


<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 8 • <strong>No</strong>. <strong>25</strong><br />

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“The Adoration of the Shepherds,” by 16th-century Dutch<br />

artist Marcellus Coffermans, depicts the joyous conclusion<br />

of a complicated mission: finding a place for Jesus to be<br />

born. On Page 10, <strong>Angelus</strong> contributor Theresa Cisneros<br />

takes a deep look at the often overlooked Mexican Christmas<br />

tradition of Las Posadas and how celebrating them<br />

invites us to make room for the Savior in our own lives.<br />



Loyola Marymount University’s Sacred Heart<br />

Chapel was overlaid with a spiritual animated<br />

light show Dec. 3-5 to celebrate the 50th<br />

anniversary of the merger of Loyola University<br />

and Marymount College. The projection was<br />

created by the university’s Academy of Catholic<br />

Thought and Imagination.<br />

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Pope Watch.................................................................................................................................... 2<br />

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Events Calendar......................................................................................................................... 33<br />

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Photos: LA’s new auxiliary bishops get their individual welcomes<br />

John Allen: Does Pope Francis need an ‘American solution’ for Germany?<br />

How the ‘Gloria’ Christmas carol found its way into Mass year-round<br />

Charlie Camosy: The sinister reasoning behind the death of ‘Baby Indi’<br />

Space, soccer, and the complications of ‘finding’ God where we are<br />

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28<br />

30<br />

Why Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Napoleon’ betrays its own subject<br />

Heather King: A study guide to becoming a ‘priest’ like St. Thérèse<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 1


Climate and a culture of life<br />

A<br />

case of severe bronchitis forced<br />

Pope Francis to cancel a trip to<br />

Dubai, where he was set to address<br />

world leaders on the need to combat<br />

climate change.<br />

Instead, Vatican Secretary of State<br />

Cardinal Pietro Parolin traveled to the<br />

World Climate Action Summit of the<br />

U.N. Climate Change Conference to<br />

read excerpts of the pope’s speech, which<br />

described the destruction of the environment<br />

as a “sin” that not only “greatly endangers<br />

all human beings, especially the<br />

most vulnerable,” but also “threatens to<br />

unleash a conflict between generations.”<br />

“Are we working for a culture of life<br />

or a culture of death?” Francis asked in<br />

his message, delivered Dec. 2. “To all of<br />

you I make this heartfelt appeal: Let us<br />

choose life! Let us choose the future!”<br />

The 86-year-old pope had planned to<br />

visit COP28 (the high-level segment of<br />

the conference with heads of state) Dec.<br />

1-3. But a week before, he fell ill with<br />

flu-like symptoms and had gone to the<br />

hospital for a CT scan of his chest. In<br />

the following days, he canceled some<br />

appointments and had aides read his<br />

prepared texts at other events.<br />

“The doctor would not let me go to<br />

Dubai,” he told health care managers at<br />

a <strong>No</strong>v. 30 Vatican audience. “The reason<br />

is that it is very hot there, and you go<br />

from heat to air conditioning.”<br />

The Vatican press office later said that<br />

the pope was taking antibiotics for his<br />

bronchial infection and persisting “respiratory<br />

difficulty.”<br />

In his message to COP28, the pope also<br />

criticized the idea that the poor, and high<br />

birth rates, are to blame for the climate<br />

crisis.<br />

“Almost half of our world that is more<br />

needy is responsible for scarcely 10% of<br />

toxic emissions, while the gap between<br />

the opulent few and the masses of the<br />

poor has never been so abysmal. The<br />

poor are the real victims of what is<br />

happening.”<br />

As for population growth, births are<br />

a resource, he wrote, “whereas certain<br />

ideological and utilitarian models now<br />

being imposed with a velvet glove on<br />

families and peoples constitute real forms<br />

of colonization.”<br />

The pope also lamented the energy<br />

“wasted” by humanity on “numerous<br />

wars” and “how many resources are<br />

being squandered on weaponry that destroys<br />

lives and devastates our common<br />

home!”<br />

Calling for “a decisive acceleration of<br />

ecological transition” regarding energy<br />

efficiency, renewable sources, and education,<br />

Francis promised the “commitment<br />

and support of the Catholic Church” in<br />

those areas.<br />

The pope also sent a separate video<br />

message to faith leaders at the conference,<br />

saying that “the problem of climate<br />

change is also a religious problem: its<br />

roots lie in the creature’s presumption of<br />

self-sufficiency.”<br />

“That insatiable desire for power wells<br />

up whenever we consider ourselves lords<br />

of the world, whenever we live as though<br />

God did not exist and, as a result, end up<br />

prey to passing things,” he wrote. “Instead<br />

of mastering technology, we let technology<br />

master us. … We become mere<br />

commodities, desensitized, incapable of<br />

sorrow and compassion, self-absorbed<br />

and, turning our backs on morality and<br />

prudence, we destroy the very sources of<br />

life.”<br />

Reporting courtesy of Catholic <strong>News</strong><br />

Service Rome correspondent Carol Glatz.<br />

Papal Prayer Intention for <strong>December</strong>: We pray that people<br />

living with disabilities may be at the center of attention in<br />

society, and that institutions may offer inclusive programs<br />

which value their active participation.<br />

2 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>



Christmas and the joy of salvation<br />

We began Advent this year in<br />

a joyous way, with our 92nd<br />

annual procession and Mass<br />

in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe<br />

and St. Juan Diego.<br />

Thousands joined us for the mile-long<br />

walk from Our Lady of Solitude<br />

Church to East Los Angeles College<br />

Stadium. It was a glorious witness<br />

to the life of our local Church, with<br />

families young and old, Catholic school<br />

students, priests, religious, and my<br />

brother bishops and I, all coming to<br />

praise Jesus.<br />

This procession was started in 1931<br />

by the many Catholic refugees from<br />

Mexico who had fled the persecution<br />

of the Church and were welcomed<br />

here by my predecessor, Archbishop<br />

John Cantwell.<br />

It is a beautiful story of mercy and<br />

hospitality for us to remember at<br />

Christmas; for me, this story ties in with<br />

the Las Posadas (“The Inns”) tradition,<br />

in which Mexican families reenact the<br />

experience of Mary and Joseph on that<br />

first Christmas night, when they could<br />

find no room at the inn.<br />

I think of Jesus’ words: “Behold, I<br />

stand at the door and knock, if anyone<br />

hears my voice and opens the door, I<br />

will come in to him and eat with him,<br />

and he with me.”<br />

All these centuries later, Jesus is still<br />

standing and knocking at the door of<br />

every heart, still inviting each of us<br />

to welcome him, to join him at the<br />

table that he has prepared for us in his<br />

eternal kingdom.<br />

The Catechism tells us that Jesus is<br />

the One “who is” and the One “who<br />

comes.”<br />

We live our lives in this balance, in<br />

between the gift of his birth in Bethlehem<br />

and his promise to come again and<br />

gather us in his love at the end of time.<br />

Love came down from heaven on that<br />

first Christmas.<br />

In her Virgin womb, holy Mary bore<br />

the God who is Love. She bore the<br />

Love who created the stars and the<br />

heavens, the earth and all that is in it.<br />

She bore the Love who still moves the<br />

winds and the seas, and who sustains<br />

everything that lives and has breath.<br />

But why? Why did Love come down?<br />

The answer is in his name: “And you<br />

shall call his name Jesus,” the angel<br />

told Joseph, “for he will save his people<br />

from their sins.”<br />

Love came down to save us from our<br />

sins, and from the consequence of our<br />

sins, which is death.<br />

The joy of Christmas is the joy of<br />

salvation, that beautiful cry of the angel<br />

on Christmas night: “To you is born<br />

this day … a Savior!”<br />

“Salvation” is one of those religious<br />

terms that has become harder to<br />

understand as the society around us has<br />

grown more secular and materialistic.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t many people anymore seem to<br />

think they need to be “saved.” We are<br />

confident in our science and technology;<br />

we think we can manage any<br />

problem, that we have everything<br />

under control.<br />

And it is true: We have made great<br />

progress in our standards of living, we<br />

have created breakthroughs in medicines<br />

and treatments for disease.<br />

But our inventions can never free<br />

us from the snares of our sinfulness,<br />

can never save us from the many ways<br />

we turn away from God and hurt one<br />

another.<br />

And no matter how advanced our<br />

science may become, we will never<br />

discover the “cure” for death.<br />

For this we need a Savior.<br />

Jesus came down from heaven<br />

because he knows that we cannot save<br />

ourselves, that we could never find our<br />

way to heaven without him.<br />

St. Catherine of Siena said, “Everything<br />

comes from love, all is ordained<br />

for the salvation of humankind. God<br />

does nothing without this goal in mind.”<br />

This is the joyful mystery of Christmas.<br />

Jesus comes to reveal that we are<br />

loved by God with a love that begins<br />

in God’s own heart, a love that begins<br />

before the foundation of the world and<br />

will continue into all eternity.<br />

Love is the reason for the universe,<br />

and love is the reason for your life and<br />

mine. God has made each one of us to<br />

love and to be loved, to love as we have<br />

been loved by him.<br />

This is the promise of salvation that<br />

Jesus brings, the promise of a love that<br />

never ends.<br />

On Christmas, Love came down to save us from<br />

our sins, and from the consequence of our sins,<br />

which is death.<br />

In this season of salvation, this season<br />

of joy, let us open our hearts once again<br />

to experience our Savior’s love.<br />

And let us ask him to renew in us the<br />

desire to share his love and to make his<br />

salvation known to every person.<br />

Pray for me and I will pray for you.<br />

And let us ask holy Mary, the cause of<br />

our joy, to help us to live each day with<br />

the joy of salvation.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

■ Miss Universe crown<br />

belongs to God, winner<br />

says<br />

This year’s Miss Universe pageant<br />

winner put her Catholic faith on full<br />

display in accepting the award.<br />

“I am a Christian person, a Catholic<br />

person,” said Nicaragua’s Sheynnis<br />

Palacios, 23, in her victory speech.<br />

“To me, prayer is a way I feel more<br />

comfortable. When I say ‘Thanks,<br />

God,’ it’s because this crown is not<br />

mine. It is for him. It is for all the delegates<br />

that I share with and it is also<br />

for my country and my family.”<br />

This was the first Miss Universe<br />

competition to allow married women<br />

and mothers to compete, and marked<br />

the first time a Nicaraguan claimed<br />

the crown.<br />

Palacios’ comments come as Catholics<br />

face mounting persecution in her<br />

native Nicaragua, where President<br />

Daniel Ortega has exiled priests and<br />

religious, dissolved a Catholic seminary,<br />

and imprisoned Bishop Rolando<br />

Álvarez of Matagalpa for more than a<br />

year on suspicious charges.<br />

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios points her finger<br />

upward after being crowned Miss Universe during the<br />

72nd Miss Universe pageant in San Salvador, El Salvador,<br />

<strong>No</strong>v. 18. | OSV NEWS/JOSÉ CABEZAS, REUTERS<br />

■ Catholic school stabbing leads to Dublin riots<br />

A stabbing attack<br />

in Dublin left three<br />

children and their<br />

teacher hospitalized<br />

and sparked<br />

riots over immigration<br />

in the Irish<br />

capital.<br />

The victims were<br />

stabbed <strong>No</strong>v. 23<br />

while lining up in<br />

front of a Nativity<br />

scene connected to<br />

their Irish language<br />

Catholic school,<br />

Cólaiste Mhuire (St.<br />

Tributes placed at the scene of the stabbing attack outside St. Mary’s College in<br />


Mary’s College). The attack sparked riots in Dublin, with rioters tying the attack<br />

to the country’s immigration policy.<br />

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar challenged the anti-immigration narrative by confirming<br />

that, though the unnamed suspect was originally from Algeria, he was a<br />

naturalized Irish citizen of 20 years.<br />

“I really would ask people to try and avoid connecting crime with migration.<br />

It’s not right,” said Varadkar.<br />

As the city faced the most violent riots in decades, Dublin Archbishop Dermot<br />

Farrell prayed that those who’d been injured have “the strength to endure this<br />

awful attack, and grant each of us the grace to live our lives in holiness, free<br />

from all violence.”<br />

■ Myanmar military occupies cathedral<br />

The Burmese military is being criticized for bombing and occupying a cathedral<br />

in Loikaw, Myanmar, on <strong>No</strong>v. 26.<br />

Christ the King Cathedral in Loikaw, Myanmar, was home to 80 refugees taking<br />

shelter when the military action took place. Though no one was killed, the<br />

pastoral center’s ceiling collapsed and the refugees were forced to flee to other<br />

local churches or the nearby wilderness.<br />

The refugees, which included 10 priests and 16 religious, came from the state<br />

of Kayah, which has been a major battleground during the country’s civil war<br />

that began in 2021. At press time, 50 soldiers were reportedly occupying the<br />

property, using it as a “shield,” according to Bishop Celso Ba Shwe.<br />

■ Russian drone debris damages<br />

Ukrainian Catholic mother church<br />

One of Ukraine’s most important churches was damaged <strong>No</strong>v. <strong>25</strong> in the most<br />

extensive drone attack since Russia invaded the country February 2022.<br />

Ukrainian forces shot down 74 of 75 drones deployed by Russia in an attack on<br />

Kyiv, but one of them caused damage to the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection<br />

of Christ, the mother church for Ukraine’s Greek Catholics.<br />

Debris from the downed drone tore hardware off the cathedral’s doors, shattered<br />

windows, and damaged the archbishop’s residence. Five people were<br />

injured but no one was killed in the drone attacks, which left the city under a<br />

raid alert for more than six hours.<br />

4 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

NATION<br />

■ Indiana: Catholic women’s college<br />

to admit transgender students<br />

An Indiana bishop called a Catholic women’s college’s decision to admit biological<br />

men identifying as women a departure “from fundamental Catholic teaching<br />

on the nature of woman.”<br />

St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, announced the policy change in an<br />

email to students and staff <strong>No</strong>v. 21, noting it was not the first Catholic women’s<br />

college to adopt such a policy. School president Katie Conboy said the update<br />

“encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women’s college.”<br />

But the college’s local bishop, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend,<br />

lamented the policy in a <strong>No</strong>v. 27 statement.<br />

“The desire of St. Mary’s College to show hospitality to people who identify as<br />

transgender is not the problem,” said Rhoades. “The problem is a Catholic woman’s<br />

college embracing a definition of woman that is not Catholic.”<br />

Father Jesús Mariscal. | CATHOLIC EXTENSION<br />

■ Washington priest<br />

delivers twins on the street<br />

“I’m sorry I’m late for our appointment.<br />

I was just helping a lady deliver<br />

twins.”<br />

Father Jesús Mariscal had a surprising<br />

excuse when he arrived late to<br />

marriage preparation last September<br />

with a couple at St. Paul Cathedral<br />

in Yakima, Washington, where he is<br />

parochial vicar.<br />

Mariscal’s story gained internet<br />

traction after Catholic Extension<br />

wrote <strong>No</strong>v. 14 about how he helped a<br />

homeless woman give birth.<br />

When the woman went into labor<br />

outside the cathedral yelling for help,<br />

Mariscal assisted in the delivery of two<br />

twin boys, directed by a 911 operator<br />

over the speaker phone. The twins<br />

were born prematurely at 30 weeks,<br />

with the second born in caul and with<br />

the umbilical cord around its neck.<br />

The woman and the boys were admitted<br />

to the hospital afterward.<br />

“I was there holding a baby with<br />

my bloody hands, and the baby was<br />

all bloody as well, and I’m dressed<br />

in clerics. And I’m a priest in front<br />

of the shrine of Our Lady,” Mariscal<br />

told Catholic Extension. “And I was<br />

thinking, ‘What is God trying to tell<br />

me? What are you trying to tell me,<br />

God? What is this about?’ ”<br />

■ US sees historic levels of suicide deaths<br />

More Americans died by suicide in 2022 than in previous recorded history,<br />

according to data released by the CDC.<br />

In a report of provisional data from 2022, 49,449 deaths were attributed to<br />

suicide, with final numbers expected to be even higher. That places the U.S.<br />

suicide rate at 14.3 deaths per 100,000, a growth of 3% over 2021 numbers. Some<br />

researchers think that the rate of suicidal ideation may also be increasing.<br />

The CDC report continues a trend of increasing suicide rates over the past 50<br />

years, which some connect to the decrease in religious faith in the same period.<br />

“With the biblical narrative gone and the practice of Christian religion dramatically<br />

down, there are only ephemeral and worldly goals to seek,” Msgr. Charles<br />

Pope of Washington, D.C., told Catholic <strong>News</strong> Agency. “But since we have an<br />

infinite longing in our heart and the world is finite, it is a recipe for unhappiness,<br />

frustration, and depression.”<br />

Spirit in the stadium — Young people pray during the closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference<br />

at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis <strong>No</strong>v. 18. The annual gathering attracted 12,000 Catholic teens from across<br />

the country and a lineup of Catholic speakers, including Katie Prejean McGrady, Chika Anyanwu, and Auxiliary<br />

Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat of New York. | OSV NEWS/MIKE KROKOS, THE CRITERION<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

LOCAL<br />

■ Historic mission church<br />

in Irwindale vandalized<br />

The historic Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, once a part of the<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was vandalized on <strong>No</strong>v. 22, according to<br />

the Irwindale Police Department.<br />

Witnesses saw a suspicious man near the front of the church and<br />

called police. When officers arrived, they found a smashed stainedglass<br />

window and the church ransacked, police said.<br />

Martin Garcia, 36, of South Gate, was detained at the location and<br />

arrested on suspicion of vandalism and burglary.<br />

The historic mission was built using rocks from the nearby San Gabriel<br />

River and fully opened in 1919. When the cost to retrofit the church<br />

got expensive, the archdiocese sold it back to the City of Irwindale<br />

in 1990. The city continues to use the church for special events and<br />

rentals.<br />

Together we stand — Archdiocesan Interreligious Officer Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, center in black, stands with other<br />

religious leaders at the <strong>2023</strong> South Bay Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving event on <strong>No</strong>v. 21 at American Martyrs<br />

Church in Manhattan Beach. The annual multireligious service focused on healing with the war in the Holy Land.<br />


■ Archdiocese, groups helping<br />

immigrants receive $2 million<br />

The L.A. Welcomes Collective — which includes the Archdiocese of Los<br />

Angeles, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), and Clergy and<br />

Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE LA), among others — recently received<br />

$2 million from the state for immigration services, according to California<br />

Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo.<br />

The funding will be used to help train shelter staff to deal with immigrants’<br />

unique needs and to further support the region’s immigration endeavors. In addition<br />

to the typical flow of immigrants, more than 20 buses filled with migrants<br />

have been sent to the Los Angeles area from Texas since June.<br />

Guillermo Torres, Immigration Programs Coordinator for CLUE LA, was appreciative<br />

of the funding and thanked clergy and participating parishes for their<br />

respectful support of immigration efforts.<br />

“We welcome this state support to help with the operational expenses to ensure<br />

comfortable, dignified accommodations,” he said.<br />


■ Ruling: LAUSD<br />

withheld federal funds<br />

for LA Catholic schools<br />

The U.S. Department of Education<br />

sided with a prior ruling that the<br />

Los Angeles Unified School District<br />

illegally withheld federal funds from<br />

low-income LA Catholic school<br />

students.<br />

The federal government’s <strong>No</strong>v.<br />

16 ruling affirmed the California<br />

Department of Education’s findings<br />

in 2021 that LAUSD had failed to<br />

“accurately count the number of<br />

children from low-income families”<br />

attending schools in the Archdiocese<br />

of Los Angeles and to meaningfully<br />

consult with the archdiocese on those<br />

discrepancies.<br />

The new ruling would restore millions<br />

of dollars in federal money that<br />

goes to low-income students attending<br />

LA-area Catholic schools that qualify<br />

for Title I funding.<br />

In a decision shared with media<br />

<strong>No</strong>v. 30, the USDE ordered LAUSD<br />

to take corrective actions, including<br />

working with the archdiocese to<br />

analyze and recalculate Title I-eligible<br />

schools and students, identify services<br />

to be provided, and to implement the<br />

amenities within 90 days, or a later<br />

agreed-upon date.<br />

Once those recalculations have been<br />

made, restitution for past years can be<br />

determined.<br />

Y<br />

6 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

V<br />


Letters to the Editor<br />

When a big family comes from ‘just one more’<br />

Dr. Grazie Christie’s column in the Dec. 1 issue “In defense of the big<br />

family” on the new research reporting that Americans would like bigger<br />

families, but aren’t having them, struck a real chord with me.<br />

My husband and I have built our family through adoption, and we have four<br />

wonderful sons. Our fourth baby arrived just months before my husband’s 50th<br />

birthday, and 11 years after our twins were born.<br />

Many people, including family and friends, thought we were crazy to add to our<br />

family at this stage in life. After all, private adoption is a very deliberate choice<br />

and, with three older kids already, we could have coasted toward an empty nest.<br />

Still, we longed and prayed for “just one more,” even as doubts found their way<br />

into our discernment. It was through our boys’ repeated demands for a baby brother<br />

or sister that we came to know another adoption — another family member —<br />

was worth pursuing.<br />

They’ve been proved right, over and over again, by the blessings our “just one<br />

more” has brought to our family. Thank you, Dr. Christie, for encouraging others<br />

to have the children they long for and for reminding us of all the blessings they<br />

bring.<br />

— Leigh Snead, South Bend, Indiana<br />

Y<br />

Continue the conversation! To submit a letter to the editor, visit <strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/Letters-To-The-Editor<br />

and use our online form or send an email to editorial@angelusnews.com. Please limit to 300 words. Letters<br />

may be edited for style, brevity, and clarity.<br />

Going with Guadalupe<br />

“Sister Alicia and I are<br />

committed to staying until<br />

the last patient leaves or<br />

dies.”<br />

~ Barbara Jean Wajda, of the Sisters of St. Francis of<br />

the Neumann Communities, in a Dec. 1 Associated<br />

Press article on pilgrims attempting to visit where<br />

Catholic saints cared for Hawaii’s leprosy patients.<br />

“The Lord longs to be with<br />

us, but He will not force us<br />

to put the phone down.”<br />

~ Constance T. Hull, in a <strong>No</strong>v. 30 Catholic Exchange<br />

commentary on turning off social media and the<br />

24-hour news cycle this Advent.<br />

“Picture lumberjacks at<br />

a rave.”<br />

~ Jeff Tweedy, musician and songwriter, in a <strong>No</strong>v. 28<br />

New York Times article predicting trends for 2024.<br />

“It is good to make the heart<br />

willing to welcome [Christ]<br />

with prayer and to host him<br />

with charity … to make him<br />

comfortable.”<br />

~ Pope Francis, commenting on the readings of the<br />

1st Sunday of Advent in his Dec. 3 <strong>Angelus</strong> address.<br />

Parishioners from Santa Isabel Church in Los Angeles walk with their<br />

decorated float during the 92nd procession and Mass honoring Our<br />

Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego on Dec. 3. | SARAH YAKLIC<br />

“He didn’t burn the<br />

midnight oil; he drank it<br />

straight.”<br />

~ Matthew Hennessey in City Journal on the life of<br />

Irish singer and lapsed Catholic Shane McGowan,<br />

who died <strong>No</strong>v. 30.<br />

View more photos<br />

from this gallery at<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/photos-videos<br />

Do you have photos or a story from your parish that you’d<br />

like to share? Please send to editorial @angelusnews.com.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 7

IN EXILE<br />


Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father<br />

Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual<br />

writer; ronrolheiser.com<br />

Praying for both — the weak and the strong<br />

When Jesus instituted the<br />

Eucharist at the Last Supper,<br />

he held up bread and<br />

wine as two elements within which to<br />

make himself especially present to us.<br />

Since that time, now more than 2,000<br />

years ago, Christians celebrating the<br />

Eucharist have used the same two<br />

things, bread and wine, to ask Christ<br />

to bless this world and to bring God’s<br />

special presence to our world. Why<br />

two elements? Why both bread and<br />

wine? What reality does each represent?<br />

I have always found this insight from<br />

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin particularly<br />

meaningful. Commenting on<br />

why both bread and wine are offered<br />

at each Eucharist, his says this: “In a<br />

sense the true substance to be consecrated<br />

each day is the world’s development<br />

during that day — the bread<br />

(body) symbolizing appropriately<br />

what creation succeeds in producing,<br />

the wine (blood) what creation causes<br />

to be lost in exhaustion and suffering<br />

in the course of that effort.”<br />

There’s an important lesson here for<br />

how we are invited to enter into and<br />

pray the Eucharist. When Jesus said,<br />

“my flesh is food for the life of the<br />

world,” he meant just that. He meant<br />

that our prayer, particularly the<br />

Eucharist, needs to embrace nothing<br />

less than the world, the whole world<br />

and everything and everybody in it.<br />

And that is asking a lot because, as<br />

we know, our world is a pathologically<br />

complex place, mixed, bipolar,<br />

differentiated, a place full of both<br />

good and bad, young and old, healthy<br />

and sick, rich and poor, powerful<br />

and powerless, triumph and defeat,<br />

life and death. Making Christ’s flesh<br />

food for the life of the world means<br />

holding a lot of things up for God’s<br />

blessing, and that doesn’t always<br />

come naturally to us.<br />

As instituted by Jesus, the Eucharist<br />

needs to be a prayer that embraces<br />

the whole world and everything and<br />

everyone in it. It needs to be a prayer<br />

for the poor, the aged, the sick, the<br />

suffering, the powerless, and for<br />

everyone (including mother earth)<br />

who is being victimized — even as it<br />

needs to be a prayer for the rich, the<br />

young, the healthy, and the powerful.<br />

At the Eucharist, we need to pray for<br />

those in our hospitals and for those<br />

who are bursting with health. We<br />

need to pray for the woman or man<br />

who is dying, even as we pray for the<br />

young athlete who is preparing to<br />

compete in the Olympic games. And<br />

we need to pray for the refugees on<br />

our borders as well as for those who<br />

make laws regarding our borders. As<br />

Teilhard de Chardin says, we must<br />

hold up in prayer “what creation succeeds<br />

in producing and what creation<br />

causes to be lost in exhaustion and<br />

suffering in the course of that effort.”<br />

As a Roman Catholic priest, I have<br />

the privilege of presiding at the<br />

Eucharist, and whenever I do, I<br />

always try to remain conscious of the<br />

separate realities which the bread<br />

and wine symbolize. When I lift up<br />

the bread, I try to be conscious of the<br />

fact that I am holding up for God’s<br />

blessing all that is healthy, growing<br />

in life, and is being celebrated in our<br />

world today. When I lift up the wine,<br />

I try to be conscious that I am holding<br />

up for God’s blessing all that is being<br />

crushed, is suffering, and is dying<br />

today, as life on this earth moves<br />

forward.<br />

Our world is a big place and at every<br />

moment somewhere on this planet<br />

new life is being born, young life is<br />

taking root, some people are celebrating<br />

life, some are finding love,<br />

some are making love, and some are<br />

celebrating success and triumph.<br />

And, while all of this is happening,<br />

others are losing their health, others<br />

are dying, others are being raped and<br />

violated, and others are being crushed<br />

by hunger, defeat, hopelessness, and<br />

a broken spirit. At the Eucharist, the<br />

bread speaks for the former, the wine<br />

for the latter.<br />

Several days ago, I presided over the<br />

Eucharist at the funeral of a man who<br />

had died at the age of 90. We celebrated<br />

this faith, mourned with his<br />

family, highlighted the gift that was<br />

his life, tried to drink from the spirit<br />

he left behind, said a faith-filled ritual<br />

goodbye to him, and buried him in<br />

the earth. The wine we consecrated<br />

at the Eucharist that day symbolized<br />

all this, his death, our loss, and the<br />

deaths and losses of people everywhere<br />

— God’s being with us in our<br />

suffering.<br />

Shortly afterward, I was in a house<br />

filled with the vibrancy and young<br />

energy of three small children —<br />

aged 5, 2, and 8 months. Little on this<br />

planet so refreshes the soul as does<br />

young life. There isn’t any antidepressant<br />

drug anywhere on this planet<br />

that can do for us what the energy of<br />

a young child can do. When I next<br />

held up the bread at the Eucharist,<br />

I was more conscious of what that<br />

bread symbolized — energy, health,<br />

beauty, young life, vibrancy — God’s<br />

joy and radiance on this planet.<br />

8 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>



In reliving Joseph and Mary’s trek to find a<br />

place for Jesus’ birth, the nine-day celebration<br />

embraces deeper meanings.<br />

A file photo shows young people playing<br />

the parts of Joseph and Mary in <strong>No</strong>gales,<br />

Mexico, as they participate in a traditional<br />

Mexican Las Posadas. | OSV NEWS/CNS FILE,<br />



10 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Zonia Montano, a longtime<br />

parishioner and volunteer<br />

coordinator at St. Elizabeth of<br />

Hungary Catholic Church in Altadena,<br />

can hardly wait for Christmas to<br />

arrive.<br />

The list of parish celebrations marking<br />

the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,<br />

the liturgical season of Advent,<br />

and the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas<br />

is a long one, but Montano’s<br />

enthusiasm really bubbles over when<br />

describing how she’ll band together<br />

with more than two dozen ministry<br />

leaders to help bring Las Posadas — a<br />

centuries-old tradition highlighting<br />

Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging<br />

prior to Jesus’ birth — to life for her<br />

church community to enjoy.<br />

“I am very happy to be involved with<br />

the Posadas because you can see that<br />

the community enjoys it,” said Montano,<br />

who’s helped organize St. Elizabeth’s<br />

Posadas for about five years.<br />

“You can see that it brings happiness<br />

and unity to the parish.”<br />

Montano is among thousands<br />

of Catholics worldwide who will<br />

celebrate Posadas from Dec. 16-24,<br />

a nine-night novena leading up to<br />

Christmas that often prompts participants<br />

to reflect on how they can prepare<br />

to welcome the Christ Child into<br />

their hearts and their communities.<br />

“Posada” is the Spanish word for<br />

“inn.” The celebration is said to be<br />

rooted in a tradition that was started<br />

by St. John of the Cross in Spain,<br />

spread to the Americas by missionaries,<br />

and took hold primarily in Mexico,<br />

said Humberto Ramos, parish<br />

life director at Epiphany Church in<br />

South El Monte.<br />

Although formats vary, Posadas typically<br />

feature a rosary, a procession, a<br />

Mass, and a communal reception.<br />

During the procession, two young<br />

people portraying St. Joseph and<br />

the Virgin Mary lead a crowd often<br />

dressed as shepherds, angels, and<br />

pilgrims as they beg door-to-door for<br />

shelter using Spanish-language song<br />

verses that have been passed down for<br />

generations.<br />

After being turned away by several<br />

“innkeepers,” just like the Holy<br />

Family, the crowd is finally welcomed<br />

at the last door. Inside, a celebration<br />

ensues that often features a piñata and<br />

traditional Mexican treats including<br />

pan dulce, tamales, and “champurrado,”<br />

a thick hot chocolate drink.<br />

This Advent, parishes across the<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles will hold<br />

various Posada-related events as organizers<br />

begin to revive gatherings that<br />

were scaled<br />

back in<br />

recent years<br />

due to the<br />

COVID-19<br />

pandemic.<br />

At St.<br />

Elizabeth,<br />

Posadas are<br />

Participants march with a<br />

statue of Joseph and Mary<br />

in the annual Las Posadas<br />

procession on historic Olvera<br />

Street, a Mexican marketplace,<br />

on Dec. 17, 2021, in<br />

Los Angeles.<br />


<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

vide a tangible daily reminder that<br />

Christmas is approaching, building<br />

momentum and anticipation inside<br />

parishioners.<br />

“You connect to it personally when<br />

you hear the songs, you connect to it<br />

when you see the images of the Virgin<br />

and St. Joseph,” she said. “You connect<br />

to it when you see the manger<br />

scene set up. Mentally, and spiritually,<br />

it helps you prepare for Christmas.”<br />

At St. Patrick, Posadas are more<br />

held after the evening Mass on the<br />

parish grounds. Each celebration<br />

is sponsored by a different church<br />

ministry and comes complete with hot<br />

chocolate, pan dulce, and “aguinaldos”<br />

(“candy bags”) for the children.<br />

At Ramos’ parish, festivities will<br />

begin Dec. 16 with a “pastorela” — a<br />

Christmas play dating back to the<br />

Middle Ages in which shepherds are<br />

traveling to visit baby Jesus, but along<br />

the way encounter situations reflecting<br />

the seven deadly sins.<br />

The play will be followed up by<br />

nightly Posadas hosted by various parish<br />

groups featuring a rosary, procession,<br />

and a culminating celebration.<br />

At St. Patrick Church in <strong>No</strong>rth<br />

Hollywood, Posadas begin with a large<br />

parish-wide celebration and are followed<br />

by nightly gatherings in different<br />

local neighborhoods. Parishioners<br />

are encouraged to invite their friends<br />

and neighbors to partake in a street<br />

procession, “villancicos” (“carols”),<br />

Mass, and more.<br />

While Posadas can take on a lighthearted<br />

air, they are also filled with<br />

religious symbolism.<br />

Participants often clutch lit candles<br />

while processing in the dark, symbolizing<br />

that we are called to be the light<br />

of the world, Ramos said. The candies<br />

that flow from the broken piñatas<br />

symbolize the graces that flow to the<br />

community when someone overcomes<br />

sin, he said.<br />

And the Holy Family’s quest for help<br />

calls us to reflect on our own willingness<br />

to assist others in their time of<br />

need, he added.<br />

“It’s a great celebration of Advent,”<br />

Ramos said. “It’s an expectation of<br />

opening our hearts to Christ in the<br />

Christmas that is approaching, but<br />

also the Christ that will come at the<br />

end of time, and the Christ that is<br />

very much living among us.”<br />

Posadas can also serve as a way for<br />

the faithful to connect with the Nativity<br />

story on a personal level, and to<br />

spread the gospel in the communities<br />

in which they live.<br />

Montano said that Posadas pro-<br />

than just<br />

a cultural<br />

or folkloric<br />

experience,<br />

said the<br />

parish’s pastor,<br />

Father<br />

Nicolás<br />

Sánchez<br />

Toledano.<br />

They are a<br />

Juan Billarruem and Maria<br />

Bonilla play the part of Joseph<br />

and Mary seeking refuge on<br />

the night of Christ’s birth<br />

during a traditional posada<br />

re-enactment at Holy Redeemer<br />

Church in Detroit,<br />

Michigan, in 2001.<br />



missionary or an evangelization tool<br />

that can be used to strengthen the<br />

family unit, help attendees learn more<br />

about Jesus, and provide a way for<br />

12 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

nonchurchgoers to connect with the<br />

Church outside its walls.<br />

“This is a pastoral act of the St.<br />

Patrick’s church community,” he said.<br />

“It is the church that is venturing out<br />

into the neighborhoods and is made<br />

present in the sites in which people<br />

live.”<br />

In the U.S., Posadas are especially<br />

popular in Latino communities, particularly<br />

among Mexican immigrants<br />

who are nostalgic for their homeland<br />

and want to share the tradition with<br />

their children, Ramos said.<br />

The Holy Family’s search for lodging<br />

can also resonate among some Latino<br />

immigrants trying to carve out a new<br />

life in a foreign country.<br />

“I think for many Latino Catholics<br />

whose lives have been affected by immigration<br />

it’s a reminder of the hospitality<br />

that they’ve received themselves<br />

to some degree, as well as the spirit<br />

of welcome that Catholics are called<br />

to offer newcomers,” said Jennifer<br />

Owens-Jofré, an assistant professor in<br />

the department of theological studies<br />

at Loyola Marymount University.<br />

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,<br />

participants say, the Posada tradition<br />

is indeed gaining traction among<br />

first- and second-generation Mexican<br />

Americans, but it’s also becoming a<br />

part of popular Catholic practice and<br />

culture overall.<br />

For Montano — who was born in<br />

Guatemala and came to the U.S. as<br />

a child — helping stage her parish’s<br />

annual Posadas has given her new<br />

insight into the tradition, as she did<br />

not celebrate them growing up.<br />

Montano first experienced Posadas<br />

as an adult while visiting her husband’s<br />

family in Guanajuato, Mexico,<br />

and after years of attending and<br />

planning these gatherings now feels<br />

privileged to be able to bring them to<br />

her church community each <strong>December</strong>.<br />

“It is a very beautiful tradition,” she<br />

“It’s an expectation of opening our hearts to<br />

Christ in the Christmas that is approaching.”<br />

said. “If you come to this country as a<br />

child and you didn’t learn about these<br />

traditions in your country of origin,<br />

but to have the opportunity to learn<br />

about them and experience them<br />

here, it helps both you and the next<br />

generation.”<br />

Theresa Cisneros is a freelance journalist<br />

with 24 years of experience in<br />

the news industry. She is a fourth-generation<br />

Southern California resident<br />

and lives in Orange County with her<br />

husband and four children.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 13


Bishop Slawomir Szkredka with Archbishop<br />

José H. Gomez following his <strong>No</strong>v. 26 Installation<br />

Mass as episcopal vicar of the Santa<br />

Barbara Pastoral Region at Mission Basilica<br />

San Buenaventura in Ventura.<br />

Following their<br />

episcopal ordinations,<br />

LA’s four new<br />

auxiliary bishops were<br />

officially welcomed<br />

at Installation Masses<br />

in their respective<br />

pastoral regions.<br />


Bishop Albert Bahhuth gives holy Communion at<br />

his Oct. 28 Installation Mass as episcopal vicar of<br />

the San Fernando Pastoral Region at St. Charles<br />

Borromeo Church in <strong>No</strong>rth Hollywood.<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Bishop Matthew Elshoff poses with Archbishop Gomez and priests from the Our Lady of the Angels<br />

Pastoral Region after his Oct. 29 Installation Mass at St. John Chrysostom Church in Inglewood.<br />

Bishop Brian Nunes hugs guests after his<br />

<strong>No</strong>v. 4 Installation Mass as episcopal vicar of<br />

the San Gabriel Pastoral Region at Mission<br />

San Gabriel Arcángel.<br />

Bishop Bahhuth reads prayers<br />

during his Installation Mass.<br />

Bishop Elshoff takes a bow during his Installation Mass.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>15</strong>

Bishop Nunes poses with members of the<br />

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries after<br />

his Installation Mass.<br />

Bishop Elshoff after his Installation Mass.<br />

Bishop Szkredka receives applause from the<br />

congregation during his Installation Mass at<br />

Mission Basilica San Buenaventura in Ventura.<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Bishop Szkredka distributes<br />

holy Communion at his<br />

Installation Mass.<br />

Bishop Nunes speaks during his Installation Mass.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 17

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 19

Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of<br />

the German bishops’ conference,<br />

attends the fifth synodal assembly<br />

in Frankfurt March 9. | OSV<br />



Will Pope Francis be forced to embrace an<br />

‘American solution’ for Germany too?<br />


ROME — Suppose you’re a progressive German<br />

Catholic these days, excited by the reform course<br />

sketched by your country’s Synodal Way, especially its<br />

resolutions calling for a reevaluation of Church teaching on<br />

women’s ordination and homosexuality.<br />

If so, no doubt you’re a bit concerned about recent statements<br />

from Rome seeming to throw cold water on those<br />

ideas, including a letter from Pope Francis to four female<br />

theologians warning that Germany is moving “increasingly<br />

away from the universal Church’s common path” and a<br />

Vatican letter to the secretary of the German bishops’ conference<br />

bluntly warning that women priests and questioning<br />

the sinfulness of homosexual acts are no-fly zones.<br />

The question you might have about all this, however, is<br />

how seriously to take it. In other words, it’s clear the Vatican<br />

is warning Germany to slow down, but should this be taken<br />

as a yellow light — “proceed with caution” — or red, meaning<br />

“stop right now”?<br />

If you’re a hypothetical German Catholic thinking along<br />

these lines, you’re probably also aware that yours is not the<br />

only national church around the Catholic world with which<br />

Francis recently has been wrestling.<br />

You undoubtedly know that last month the pope fired an<br />

American bishop, Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, and<br />

20 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

also recently decided to strip American Cardinal Raymond<br />

Burke of his Vatican apartment and salary. Both acts were<br />

clearly seen as drawing lines in the sand for the conservative-traditionalist<br />

wing of American Catholicism, basically<br />

saying that you can’t publicly defy the teaching and<br />

authority of the pope and expect to remain on the Church’s<br />

payroll.<br />

It also won’t have escaped your attention that at least so far,<br />

the pope has not taken similar actions with regard to anyone<br />

involved in the German situation. You might be tempted to<br />

conclude that whatever the issues with Germany may be,<br />

they don’t rise to the level of a firing offense and, therefore,<br />

that there’s still some wiggle room to keep moving forward.<br />

That, in a nutshell, would seem to be the problem Francis<br />

faces: how to get across to the German church that “no<br />

means no”?<br />

Granted, the situations are different.<br />

Strickland has all but accused the pope of heresy and<br />

schism, and also has quoted from a letter describing Francis<br />

as a “usurper.” In addition, an apostolic visitation reportedly<br />

turned up various administrative problems in his diocese,<br />

though their precise nature has not been identified. Burke,<br />

while more circumspect, nevertheless has lent his support<br />

to people who espouse similar positions, and has also twice<br />

now been part of a group of cardinals submitting critical<br />

“dubia” to the pontiff challenging his positions on various<br />

issues.<br />

Meanwhile, the German bishops supportive of the Synodal<br />

Way have not engaged in any such direct criticism of<br />

the pope. Indeed, prelates such as Bishop Georg Bätzing<br />

of Limburg, president of the German bishops’ conference,<br />

generally go out of their way to stress their filial devotion to<br />

Rome and to the pope.<br />

(Last January, Bätzing did grouse out loud that Francis’<br />

“way of leading the Church by way<br />

of interviews” is “extremely questionable,”<br />

but if every Catholic bishop in<br />

the world who questioned the wisdom<br />

of the pope’s media strategy were to be<br />

fired, the list of vacant dioceses would<br />

be awfully long.)<br />

During October’s Synod of Bishops<br />

on Synodality, Bishop Franz Josef<br />

Overbeck of Essen, another major<br />

proponent of the German experiment,<br />

rejected the idea that the country is<br />

drifting out of the orbit of the universal<br />

Church.<br />

“Many people have asked me, ‘Are<br />

you still Catholics<br />

and part of Cardinal Raymond Burke<br />

the Catholic<br />

is pictured leaving a papal<br />

Church?” said audience in this Dec. 22,<br />

Overbeck. “And 2016, file photo. | CNS/<br />

I say, ‘Yes, of<br />


course, we are<br />

Catholics, and<br />

we are here to stay.’ ”<br />

So, in the American case the pope<br />

was responding to prelates who, albeit in varying ways, were<br />

engaged in public criticism of his leadership, while the<br />

Germans often seem to do everything in their power to play<br />

down impressions of a rift.<br />

Yet one could make the argument, and many do, that<br />

linguistic legerdemain aside, what’s happening in Germany<br />

does represent a challenge to papal (and, more broadly,<br />

episcopal) authority every bit as serious as anything suggested<br />

by the likes of Strickland and Burke.<br />

The Germans, for instance, so far appear determined to<br />

press ahead with plans for the creation in 2026 of a “synodal<br />

council,” composed of both laity and bishops, which<br />

would have as yet loosely defined governing powers over the<br />

Church. This development comes despite the fact that in<br />

a January letter signed by three Vatican heavyweights, the<br />

Germans were explicitly told that doing so would amount<br />

to an unacceptable surrender on the exclusive role of the<br />

bishop to teach and to govern.<br />

The average German Catholic might be forgiven, however,<br />

for wondering if such verbal warnings amount to sound<br />

and fury signifying nothing, as long as the prelates signing<br />

off on these decisions do not suffer any consequences for<br />

doing so.<br />

At the moment, the German bishops are scheduled to take<br />

part in meetings with Vatican officials in January, April, and<br />

June 2024 to discuss their Synodal Way, and presumably the<br />

agenda on Rome’s side will be to rein in at least some of the<br />

centrifugal energies swirling in the German church.<br />

The question for Francis may be how to get across that he’s<br />

serious — including the possibility of adopting, however reluctantly,<br />

an “American solution” for one or two recalcitrant<br />

German prelates too.<br />

John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

“The Nativity,” by Francesco<br />

Vanni, <strong>15</strong>63-1610, Italian. |<br />


The birthplace<br />

of the ‘Gloria’<br />

How the oldest Christmas carol found its<br />

way into Sunday Mass year-round.<br />


In broadcast media and shopping<br />

centers, Christmas carols appear<br />

early, but vanish before the last of<br />

your leftover Christmas cookies.<br />

In the Church, however, there is one<br />

song that continues its run through<br />

much of the year.<br />

“Glory to God in the highest, and on<br />

earth peace to people of good will.”<br />

The Church calls it the “Gloria,” and<br />

it is a fixture of the Mass on Sundays<br />

and feast days.<br />

In many ways it was the first Christmas<br />

carol. St. Luke presents its debut<br />

in his account of Jesus’ birth. “An angel”<br />

speaks the words, backed up by “a<br />

multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke<br />

2:13–14). And the original audience<br />

was not shoppers, but “shepherds in<br />

that region living in the fields and<br />

keeping the night watch over their<br />

flock” (2:8).<br />

The Gospel doesn’t say the angels<br />

sang the words, but Christians have<br />

always interpreted the passage that<br />

way. We still sing, “Angels we have<br />

heard on high / sweetly singing o’er<br />

the plain.”<br />

In the earliest days of the Church,<br />

some unknown poet took the angels’<br />

lines and used them as the opening of<br />

an exuberant song — resulting in the<br />

prayer we still sing at a typical Sunday<br />

Mass.<br />

In ancient times, for music in worship,<br />

the Church usually favored lyrics<br />

from the Bible, either the Psalms<br />

of King David or canticles such as<br />

Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) or<br />

the songs of Simeon (Luke 2:29–32)<br />

and Zechariah (Luke 1:68–79).<br />

But Christians sometimes produced<br />

new songs, composed in the style of<br />

the biblical psalms. They were called<br />

“personal psalms” or “private psalms”<br />

(in Latin, “psalmi idiotici”). They<br />

were very common, but only three<br />

22 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

have survived from antiquity, and only<br />

one of them was made a permanent<br />

part of the Mass. Catholics in the west<br />

know it today as the “Gloria.”<br />

It begins with the words of the<br />

Gospel, but goes on to praise the<br />

Lord in what seems to be a mashup of<br />

outbursts:<br />

We praise you,<br />

we bless you,<br />

we adore you,<br />

we glorify you,<br />

we give you thanks for your great<br />

glory.<br />

The personal psalms were often improvised<br />

on the spot, and the “Gloria”<br />

captures the qualities of spontaneous<br />

praise and love for God.<br />

Mention of it first appears in the records<br />

of the ancient Roman Church,<br />

which were preserved in “The Book<br />

of the Popes.” There we find that the<br />

song was introduced into the Mass by<br />

Pope Telesphorus, who reigned from<br />

A.D. 128 to 139. But he didn’t write<br />

the “Gloria.” It was a Greek text already<br />

in use in the Eastern churches.<br />

Greek was for the first three centuries<br />

the language of the Roman liturgy,<br />

too, so it was a perfect fit.<br />

In the eastern lands, the “Gloria”<br />

had been (and remained) a daily<br />

devotion. It was offered at dawn as the<br />

first prayer of the day. As the Christmas<br />

song first announced the Savior’s<br />

birth, so morning prayer — with<br />

the “Gloria” — served as a kind of<br />

“Christmas” for each day.<br />

But the Roman Church, at least in<br />

the beginning, employed the “Gloria”<br />

only once a year. It was a Christmas<br />

song, and so it belonged in the midnight<br />

Mass for Christmas Eve — thus<br />

replicating for the congregation the<br />

experience of Bethlehem’s shepherds,<br />

who watched their flocks by night.<br />

Such was the case for centuries. By<br />

the end of the fourth century, the<br />

Romans had abandoned liturgical<br />

Greek and were celebrating Mass in<br />

the Latin vernacular. Around the year<br />

A.D. 360, St. Hilary of Poitiers (who<br />

had spent a busy exile in the East)<br />

produced a Latin translation of the<br />

“Gloria.”<br />

Even then, however, the “Gloria”<br />

was still the exclusive property of the<br />

bishops, and they could use it only at<br />

Christmas.<br />

It would be another 100 years and<br />

more before Pope Symmachus I (A.D.<br />

498-514) relaxed the restrictions on<br />

the “Gloria.” He extended its use<br />

to Sundays and feast days. He even<br />

allowed simple priests to intone the<br />

“Gloria” — but only at Easter.<br />

It was not till the second millennium<br />

that the “Gloria” invaded and pervaded<br />

the liturgical year of the Western<br />

Church. It became a distinguishing<br />

mark of Sundays and feast days. It was,<br />

and is still, suppressed during the seasons<br />

of Advent and Lent. In Advent,<br />

it would be inappropriate because<br />

the Church is awaiting Christmas,<br />

and the “Gloria” is a song proper to<br />

Christmas. And in the solemn season<br />

of Lent its exuberance would seem<br />

out of place.<br />

The “Gloria” is a “doxology,” which<br />

literally means a word of praise. In<br />

the Church it is known as “The Great<br />

Doxology,” because of its length, its<br />

status, and its antiquity. It has been<br />

the subject of profound commentaries<br />

down the ages.<br />

Dynamic, ecstatic, the “Gloria”<br />

serves as an outpost of Christmas even<br />

in times most distant — even in the<br />

heat of the summer.<br />

The 20th-century liturgical theologian<br />

Maurice Zundel waxed poetic<br />

when he spoke of the “Gloria”: “What<br />

a conquest it would be, what a dream,<br />

or rather what an inexpressible reality,<br />

what an advance in depth, and what<br />

a peaceful victory, if you would but<br />

genuinely believe the words you utter,<br />

and would but put your entire soul<br />

into the praise to which the Church<br />

invites you, in her Gloria, that it may<br />

be Christmas in the world, through<br />

your heart, today.”<br />

Mike Aquilina is a contributing editor<br />

to <strong>Angelus</strong> and author of many books,<br />

including “The Mass of the Early<br />

Christians” (Our Sunday Visitor,<br />

$14.95).<br />


<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 23

Death by<br />

omission<br />

The tragedy of<br />

‘Baby Indi’ reveals<br />

the dark strategy of<br />

those promoting a<br />

more passive form of<br />

euthanasia.<br />


Recent headlines about the future<br />

of the pro-life movement in the<br />

United States — especially with<br />

respect to abortion — haven’t been all<br />

positive, with some pro-lifers emphasizing<br />

the need for better messaging and<br />

voter action going forward to protect<br />

life in its earliest stages.<br />

But when it comes to end-of-life<br />

issues, the movement has a bit more<br />

momentum going its way.<br />

For example: Recently, delegates from<br />

the extremely influential American<br />

Medical Association explicitly rejected<br />

physician-assisted killing for the fourth<br />

straight time, and also voted down<br />

a proposal to rename the practice<br />

“medical aid in dying,” a euphemism<br />

our Canadian neighbors have deployed<br />

with full force.<br />

This maps onto other seemingly improbable<br />

victories against physician-assisted<br />

suicide and euthanasia in places<br />

like England, Ireland, and Denmark,<br />

as well as closer to home in New York,<br />

Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.<br />

So why are the politics involved in<br />

defending life at its end different from<br />

doing the same at its beginning?<br />

One clear difference is that progressive<br />

disability rights groups have been<br />

at the forefront of these end-of-life<br />

fights. Their role has made it harder for<br />

advocates of euthanasia to argue that<br />

their lives are not worth living.<br />

But while pro-lifers are making good<br />

Indi Gregory, an 8-month-old child<br />

suffering from a degenerative disease,<br />

pictured in an undated photo, was at<br />

the center of a legal battle in the U.K.<br />

to keep her on life support. She died<br />

on <strong>No</strong>v. 13. | OSV NEWS/COURTESY<br />


progress against attempts to legalize the<br />

death of the disabled by action, they’re<br />

not doing as well against those who are<br />

aiming at their death by omission.<br />

Catholic teaching defines euthanasia<br />

as an act or omission, which of itself or<br />

by intention causes death, a definition<br />

that calls to mind the tragic story of<br />

Baby Indi in the United Kingdom, the<br />

most recent child in a growing list to<br />

be euthanized against the will of her<br />

parents.<br />

In such cases, both the medical teams<br />

and the judges have insisted that the<br />

child is so disabled that her life is no<br />

longer worth living. They are so confident<br />

in this judgement that they deem<br />

the parents’ desire for their child to<br />

continue to live as constituting a kind<br />

of child abuse.<br />

To add insult to injury, the judges<br />

ruled that Baby Indi’s life support had<br />

to be administered at a hospital or<br />

hospice and not at the child’s home<br />

as the family desired — pretty much<br />

implying that the parents want to abuse<br />

their own child.<br />

Of course, someone — even a Catholic<br />

— might ask: What’s the big deal<br />

with removing the child’s life support?<br />

Does not even the Catholic Church<br />

allow for the removal of extraordinary<br />

means of medical treatment in such<br />

cases?<br />

The answer is: It depends.<br />

If one is not aiming at death, but rather<br />

at removing burdensome, life-sustaining<br />

treatment, the Church leaves<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

this option wide open.<br />

After all, it’s also possible to make an<br />

idol out of grasping for more life. In<br />

our religious tradition, the images and<br />

narratives of Jesus’ death — and the<br />

deaths of martyrs — represent central<br />

examples of Christian sanctity. Choosing<br />

to live one’s final days or hours<br />

without life-sustaining treatment, far<br />

from being wrong, can be a holy and<br />

beautiful choice.<br />

This, however, was nothing close<br />

to what the decision-makers in Baby<br />

Indi’s case had in mind. The key lies in<br />

analyzing what is being aimed at here:<br />

What was the intention of the medical<br />

team and the judges?<br />

If they had simply claimed that the<br />

intensive care itself was so overwhelmingly<br />

burdensome that it represented<br />

a kind of child abuse, then they would<br />

have an argument. But the actual<br />

reasoning used in the case reveals that<br />

this is not what was going on.<br />

Consider their assessments of Baby<br />

Indi’s disabilities: “There is no discernible<br />

quality of life or interaction by<br />

IG with the world around her.” “She<br />

has extremely limited quality of life.”<br />

“She seems to derive comfort from<br />

M stroking her hair, but I accept the<br />

clinical observations that she does not<br />

follow with her eyes, does not respond<br />

to stimuli, and her limb movements<br />

are not purposeful. I do not think she<br />

experiences any meaningful quality of<br />

life, and sadly she never will.”<br />

Those judges determined that Indi<br />

had just enough awareness to experience<br />

the difficulties of intensive care,<br />

but not enough to have “meaningful”<br />

quality of life.<br />

Interestingly, these are precisely the<br />

kinds of judgments that disability rights<br />

activists are so worried about.<br />

Suppose, for example, that Baby Indi<br />

had life support removed but continued<br />

to breathe and live. Would the<br />

medical team and judges be pleased<br />

with this outcome?<br />

Based on their assessment, they<br />

wouldn’t be. Instead, they made a<br />

judgment that Indi’s life was not worth<br />

living, revealing what was really at play<br />

here: an omission intended to cause<br />

death, an example of the passive euthanization<br />

of a disabled child.<br />

Sadly, once one starts paying attention<br />

to similarly aimed omissions — including<br />

in U.S. health care settings — we<br />

reach the unfortunate conclusion that<br />

this kind of child euthanasia happens<br />

quite regularly.<br />

Yes, there are good reasons for hope<br />

in the struggle against aiming for the<br />

death of the disabled by action. But<br />

the very same reasoning and concern<br />

for justice for the disabled should be<br />

applied when aiming at death that<br />

happens by omission, too.<br />

The very public cases of those like<br />

Baby Indi’s serve as a wake-up call: let<br />

those with eyes, see, and those with<br />

ears, hear — and then act accordingly.<br />

Charlie Camosy is professor of medical<br />

humanities at the Creighton University<br />

School of Medicine. In addition, he<br />

holds the Monsignor Curran Fellowship<br />

in Moral Theology at St. Joseph Seminary<br />

in New York.

AD REM<br />


The trouble with finding God<br />


What does the first man rocketed<br />

into low Earth orbit in<br />

1961 have in common with<br />

a recently retired professional soccer<br />

player in <strong>2023</strong>?<br />

<strong>No</strong>t much, until you insert the<br />

thoughts of one of the best Christian<br />

thinkers of the 20th century.<br />

When Russian cosmonaut Yuri<br />

Gagarin became the first human being<br />

in space, the world was in awe, and<br />

the United States was in shock. The<br />

Russians had beat us with Sputnik,<br />

the first artificial satellite, launched in<br />

1957. When Gagarin went into space<br />

a mere four years later, it seemed Russia<br />

would win the wager of who would<br />

reach the moon first. At the time,<br />

U.S. rockets still had the propensity<br />

of blowing up on the launch pad. But<br />

eventually, the U.S. did not just get<br />

even with Russia — we got way ahead.<br />

Upon his celebrated return to<br />

Earth, Gagarin was quoted as saying,<br />

“I looked and looked, but I didn’t<br />

see God.” It is a quote that one can<br />

imagine left the Soviet Politburo<br />

beaming, and Americans, especially<br />

Christian Americans, boiling.<br />

Much time and scholarship has<br />

passed since then, and reliable sources<br />

from official biographies and personal<br />

acquaintances state that Gagarin never<br />

said those words. The research further<br />

seems to indicate that, in fact, Gagarin<br />

was a believing Christian. He was baptized<br />

in the Russian Orthodox Church<br />

and had his children baptized as well.<br />

It is not so hard to imagine the offending<br />

quote as the creation of a nameless<br />

apparatchik trying to promote a vision<br />

of a brave new, and Godless, world.<br />

But a few years later, in 1961, that<br />

quote got under the skin of the celebrated<br />

writer C.S. Lewis.<br />

Just a few months before he died,<br />

Lewis penned an essay titled “The Seeing<br />

Eye,” written as a direct response to<br />

the misquote from Gagarin. Though<br />

Lewis was unaware at the time that the<br />

quote was inaccurate, his response was<br />

poignant, truthful, and just as applicable<br />

today as it was then.<br />

Like most things Lewis, the essay is<br />

filled with a perfect blend of succinct<br />

prose and easy- to-digest theological<br />

argument. His goal was not so much<br />

to make the case for God (he did that<br />

so well in many other works), but<br />

rather to guide readers, and hopefully<br />

26 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Robert Brennan writes from Los Angeles, where<br />

he has worked in the entertainment industry,<br />

Catholic journalism, and the nonprofit sector.<br />

Gagarin in particular, on how best to<br />

go about seeking him.<br />

To Lewis, a man thinking he might<br />

see God in space is like a man who<br />

believes he should see Shakespeare in<br />

Hamlet. Shakespeare is on every page<br />

of his plays, just as God is everywhere<br />

in the universe he created. For Lewis,<br />

to believe that God can be “found”<br />

in a specific time and space when he<br />

exists outside of time and space is folly.<br />

Of course, he does not leave it there.<br />

Lewis summed up his essay with:<br />

“Space-travel really has nothing to<br />

do with the matter. To some, God is<br />

discoverable everywhere, to others,<br />

nowhere. Those who do not find him<br />

on earth are unlikely to find Him in<br />

space. (Hang it all, we’re in space already;<br />

every year we go on a huge circular<br />

tour in space.) But send a saint<br />

up in a spaceship and he’ll find God<br />

in space as he found God on earth.”<br />

Those words came to mind when a<br />

few weeks ago, celebrated professional<br />

soccer player Megan Rapinoe played<br />

the last game of her career before her<br />

planned retirement. Rapinoe hasn’t<br />

shied away from immersing herself<br />

in off-the-field debates over the years,<br />

from pay discrepancies between male<br />

and female soccer players, to her advocacy<br />

in favor of allowing biological<br />

males to participate in women’s sports.<br />

Her retirement came sooner than she<br />

expected when she tore her Achilles<br />

tendon.<br />

It is not the way any professional<br />

athlete wants to go out. A disappointed<br />

Rapinoe afterward stood before the<br />

press and suggested her injury was<br />

“proof that there isn’t a God.” She<br />

followed up with, “I’m not a religious<br />

person or anything and if there was a<br />

God, like, this is proof that there isn’t.”<br />

One can hope that Rapinoe might<br />

walk the quote back some day — after<br />

all, the muddled syntax could have<br />

had something to do with the pain<br />

medication she was given due to her<br />

serious injury.<br />

Regardless, both quotes, according<br />

to Lewis, contain the same error:<br />

to believe one can pursue God in a<br />

particular time and space and on a human<br />

timetable and human conditions.<br />

Lewis knew differently. “Send a saint<br />

up in a spaceship and he’ll find God<br />

in space as he found God on earth.”<br />

Or maybe on a soccer field.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 27



Director Ridley Scott’s boring, meandering epic reduces<br />

Napoleon to a weak man hardly worth remembering.<br />

Joaquin Phoenix stars as<br />

Napoleon Bonaparte in the<br />

film “Napoleon.” | IMDB<br />


Rising above the 7th Arrondissement<br />

of Paris is the gold dome<br />

of Les Invalides, a landmark<br />

that serves as both a French military<br />

museum and the final resting place of<br />

the nation’s greatest general, Napoleon<br />

Bonaparte.<br />

The engravings surrounding his<br />

sarcophagus depict him as one of the<br />

ancients, adorned with laurels and<br />

togas next to tablets listing his vast<br />

accomplishments.<br />

Napoleon’s legacy as both a military<br />

mastermind and a statesman is hard<br />

to summarize — and complicated to<br />

assess. Similarly, there’s just too much<br />

to the man to capture in a single film.<br />

Still, the tagline of celebrated director<br />

Ridley Scott’s new “Napoleon” — released<br />

in theaters <strong>No</strong>v. 22 — promises<br />

an ambitious attempt: “He came from<br />

nothing. He conquered everything.”<br />

For better or worse, those words are<br />

where the film’s respect for Napoleon<br />

ends.<br />

There is nothing of Napoleon’s rise<br />

from obscurity in Corsica to the top of<br />

the French Republic, nor mention of<br />

his early military victories. The years<br />

that he spent building the charisma<br />

and political capital to seize power<br />

as First Consul and eventually as the<br />

self-crowned emperor go unnoticed.<br />

Viewing “Napoleon” in a vacuum,<br />

one might wonder: How did France<br />

become an empire? And who even is<br />

this guy?<br />

Instead, the Napoleon introduced to<br />

viewers (played by Joaquin Phoenix)<br />

is reduced to a simp for his first wife<br />

Josephine (Vanessa Kirby) and, frankly,<br />

a bore.<br />

The historical Napoleon is remembered<br />

for his energy, inquisitiveness,<br />

charm, and ability to micromanage the<br />

French Empire. But Scott’s Napoleon<br />

spends much of his screen time sitting<br />

forlornly on couches or behaving<br />

depravedly with Josephine, rather than<br />

leading his men in the throes of battle<br />

or engaging in geopolitical power plays<br />

with Russia, Austria, the Vatican, and<br />

his notorious adversary, Britain.<br />

The director seems more inclined to<br />

show Phoenix’s Napoleon sleeping (for<br />

comedic effect) than doing anything<br />

interesting with his troops (apart<br />

from him passing out bread to several<br />

soldiers during the doomed Moscow<br />

campaign).<br />

Scott’s strange inversions don’t stop<br />

there. While Napoleon has long been<br />

portrayed as a little man in stature<br />

(although in reality, he was average<br />

height for his day) but a big one in<br />

thought, will, and power, the on-screen<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

version is the opposite.<br />

After being told of Josephine’s affair<br />

while in Egypt, Napoleon returns to<br />

France to ragefully confront his wife.<br />

As a command, he warns that she is<br />

nothing without him. But it is a threat<br />

with no foundation, for this position of<br />

power is quickly reversed in the next<br />

scene with Josephine repeating the<br />

same words.<br />

Josephine, we are made to understand,<br />

was truly the master of the relationship,<br />

while Napoleon was nothing<br />

more than a whimpering cuckold. It’s<br />

a notion that seems to drive the whole<br />

film: Napoleon was not really in command<br />

(this is even demonstrated when<br />

his cold, demanding mother convinces<br />

her sheepish son to have relations with<br />

a young woman to breed an heir for<br />

the empire).<br />

By elevating Josephine as his prime<br />

motivation in several major events<br />

(including inaccurately suggesting she<br />

was the reason he left Elba during his<br />

first exile), Scott’s Napoleon is merely<br />

an angsty, boyish man.<br />

His military maxims — ones that are<br />

still studied today — are also spurned.<br />

Beyond his strategizing for Waterloo,<br />

his greatest and last<br />

defeat that led to his<br />

second exile, Napoleon’s<br />

tact briefly<br />

shines forth during<br />

the Battle of Austerlitz,<br />

arguably his<br />

greatest victory; while<br />

cinematic, even<br />

Scott’s Austerlitz sequence<br />

rings hollow<br />

because it disregards<br />

the historical truth<br />

(and the French<br />

Army’s battleplan)<br />

for the myth — that<br />

thousands died as<br />

Napoleon’s artillery<br />

fired at the ice underneath<br />

the retreating<br />

Austrian and Russian<br />

troops.<br />

In truth, only a dozen<br />

bodies have been<br />

found. But the myth masks the traps<br />

Napoleon laid; even in his greatest<br />

victory, the general cannot “win the<br />

day” in Scott’s “Napoleon.” Napoleon’s<br />

war victories — the most of any leader<br />

in history — are all enshrined on the<br />

tablets in Les Invalides but omitted in<br />

the film.<br />

Scott seems uninterested in compensating<br />

for such omissions with other<br />

aspects of history. For example: The<br />

French Revolution and the Enlightenment,<br />

two other historical realities<br />

that are crucial to understanding what<br />

“made” Napoleon, appear nowhere in<br />

the movie.<br />

Ultimately, his love and friendship<br />

with Josephine are not enough to present<br />

“Napoleon’s” portrait of its main<br />

subject as flesh and blood.<br />

Les Invalides’ monuments are not<br />

flesh and blood either, but they<br />

convey a sense of the man’s standing<br />

in history. But “Napoleon” leaves us<br />

wondering why this man is even worth<br />

remembering at all. The film does<br />

not wrestle with his legacy, criticize<br />

his mythic stature, or explore what<br />

made him tick beyond sexual desires<br />

and dynastic aspirations. There is only<br />

one moment on St. Helena when the<br />

famed general — who, at this point,<br />

has lost everything he loved, including<br />

Josephine — purports a false narrative<br />

of himself that is easily debunked by<br />

two young girls.<br />

The scene, however, is not enough<br />

to counter Napoleon’s self-aggrandizement<br />

and mitigating responsibility for<br />

blunders in his memoirs (which the<br />

film also fails to portray). “Napoleon”<br />

shortchanges its protagonist in too<br />

many respects to the point where the<br />

film’s tagline is meaningless, baseless<br />

like the character’s command to his<br />

wife. By the end, the viewer does not<br />

know where he came from, what he<br />

conquered, and how he should be<br />

regarded today.<br />

The lifeless and hollow Napoleon<br />

of Scott’s film would be unworthy<br />

of a shrine in Paris that more than 1<br />

million tourists visit per year — or,<br />

perhaps, even a movie more than 200<br />

years after his death.<br />

Andrew Fowler is the manager of internal<br />

affairs for Yankee Institute, and a<br />

former content producer at the Knights<br />

of Columbus.<br />

Vanessa Kirby and Joaquin<br />

Phoenix in a scene from<br />

“Napoleon.” | IMDB<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 29



Being a priest like St. Thérèse<br />

A portrait and relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux are<br />

displayed at St. Catherine’s Church in Honfleur,<br />

France. | SHUTTERSTOCK<br />

Endow (Educating on the Nature<br />

and Dignity of Women) is a<br />

Catholic organization rooted in<br />

the teachings of St. Pope John Paul II.<br />

Among other activities, study guides<br />

on Church teachings and notable<br />

female saints — Catherine of Siena,<br />

Edith Stein, Hildegard — are read<br />

aloud by small-group participants and<br />

discussed.<br />

Last year I contributed a guide on St.<br />

Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), called<br />

by many the greatest saint of modern<br />

times and recently honored by Pope<br />

Francis in the apostolic exhortation<br />

“C’est la Confiance” (“It is the Confidence”).<br />

Briefly, Thérèse was a bourgeois<br />

French girl, raised in a pious Catholic<br />

family, who entered a cloistered Carmelite<br />

convent at <strong>15</strong>, lived for 9 years<br />

in obscurity, and died at 24 of TB.<br />

Here’s an excerpt from a chapter that<br />

considers her desire to become a priest.<br />

In 1893, Thérèse was appointed to<br />

serve as assistant novice mistress to the<br />

convent superior, Mother de Gonzague.<br />

Quickly, she realized that she could<br />

not treat each of the novices the same.<br />

Each had a different temperament, as<br />

well as different strengths, weaknesses,<br />

and wounds.<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Heather King is an award-winning<br />

author, speaker, and workshop leader.<br />

“What cost me more than anything<br />

was to observe the faults and slight<br />

imperfections and to wage a war to the<br />

death on these. I would prefer a thousand<br />

times to receive reproofs than to<br />

give them to others,” she wrote in her<br />

autobiography “The Story of a Soul.”<br />

<strong>No</strong>thing escaped her notice. She<br />

was severe, but always loving. And if<br />

she wasn’t loved herself — “That’s<br />

just too bad! I tell the whole truth and<br />

if anyone does not want to know the<br />

truth, let her not come looking for me.<br />

… We should never allow kindness to<br />

degenerate into weakness.”<br />

Always she answered to the Father,<br />

not to popular acclaim.<br />

Always she was willing to take the last<br />

place.<br />

The universal priesthood<br />

Thérèse realized early that, as she<br />

diplomatically put it, priests need a<br />

lot of help. Praying for their salvation,<br />

and for vocations, was one of the main<br />

reasons she had entered Carmel.<br />

In the year before her death, she was<br />

given two young men upon whom<br />

to shower her missionary zeal. She<br />

was assigned to correspond with, and<br />

to pray for, a newly ordained priest,<br />

26-year-old Father Adolphe Roulland;<br />

and Maurice Bellière, 22, a seminarian<br />

who was preparing to finish<br />

his studies and travel to Africa as a<br />

missionary.<br />

Thérèse was ecstatic. A “brother-priest!”<br />

and another on his way to<br />

the priesthood.<br />

She became a spiritual mother, offering<br />

both prayers and counsel, sharing<br />

some of her own deepest insights and<br />

experiences.<br />

Inculcated with the spirituality of the<br />

day, both of her charges were frightened<br />

of God’s justice and anguished<br />

by their sins.<br />

Though they were far better educated<br />

than Thérèse, she did not hesitate to<br />

share with them her “Little Way” — a<br />

kind of shortcut to Jesus that consists<br />

in throwing ourselves into his arms<br />

like children with utter trust.<br />

To Roulland — three years her senior<br />

— she once wrote: “This is Brother,<br />

what I think of God’s justice; my way<br />

is all confidence and love. I do not<br />

understand souls who fear a Friend so<br />

tender.”<br />

Only service<br />

Make no mistake: Thérèse herself<br />

burned to be a missionary, a martyr, a<br />

soldier — and a priest.<br />

“Why must I be a virgin and not an<br />

angel or a priest?” she once exclaimed.<br />

“Oh! what wonders we shall see in<br />

heaven! I have a feeling that those<br />

who desired to be priests on earth will<br />

be able to share in the honor of the<br />

priesthood in heaven.”<br />

At the same time, Thérèse thoroughly<br />

understood that the power of the<br />

priesthood lies in the responsibility to<br />

shepherd, guide, and pastor — not in<br />

the title.<br />

In fact, each of us is called to live<br />

out our baptismal priesthood: to invite<br />

others to discipleship, to accompany,<br />

to shepherd and, above all, to sacrifice.<br />

So if we want to be priests — what’s<br />

stopping us? Christ has already given<br />

the command to go out and spread the<br />

Gospel to the whole world. Let’s do<br />

so! The world is teeming with those in<br />

need of pastoral care. We probably live<br />

with some of them.<br />

If we want to be priests, we get to<br />

consent to a self-emptying we would<br />

never have chosen on our own. We get<br />

to consent, like Jesus, to be available to<br />

all and to be misunderstood by many.<br />

We get to consent to live with results<br />

so meager we sometimes wonder<br />

whether they are results at all.<br />

Mary, standing steadfast at the foot<br />

of the cross, is the ultimate exemplar<br />

of Thérèse’s “Little Way.” So if we’re<br />

hoping for worldly acclaim, praise,<br />

and status, we’re bound to be sorely<br />

disappointed.<br />

If we’re looking for euphoria, an “experience,”<br />

an Instagram moment, we<br />

are sure to leave empty-handed.<br />

Because as Thérèse learned all too<br />

well in her short 24 years: “There<br />

are no raptures, no ecstasies — only<br />

service.”<br />

The St. Thérèse of Lisieux study guide<br />

is available for purchase on the Endow<br />

website.To learn how to host an entire<br />

eight-week study group, visit endowgroups.org<br />

or email info@endowgroups.<br />

org for more information.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 31



Scott Hahn is founder of the<br />

St. Paul Center for Biblical<br />

Theology; stpaulcenter.com.<br />

Advent: Already and not yet<br />

Advent reminds us that there are still two dimensions<br />

to our salvation: “already” and “not yet.”<br />

In Advent we sing the ancient songs of longing and<br />

expectation. The great hymn of the season is “O Come, O<br />

Come, Emmanuel,” which contains the “O Antiphons.”<br />

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,<br />

unto your own and rescue them!<br />

From depths of hell your people save,<br />

and give them victory o’er the grave.<br />

We sing this way because we have unfinished business with<br />

our God. Yes, he has sent salvation in Jesus Christ, but still<br />

we await the Savior’s coming in fullness, his “plenary parousia,”<br />

as the theologians call it.<br />

When he comes at the end of time, he will have no more<br />

glory than he has now in the Eucharist, but then we’ll see<br />

him as he is. The difference will be not with him, but with<br />

us: “we know that when he appears ... we shall see him as<br />

he is” (1 John 3:2). Thus we hope for that day, and we pray<br />

through Advent, because, as we read in the very next line of<br />

St. John’s letter: “everyone who thus hopes in him purifies<br />

himself as he is pure.”<br />

A blessed Advent, then, is the only true key to a merry<br />

Christmas. Christians should never be like the segments of<br />

affluent society that a social critic called “souls without longing.”<br />

We should know longing habitually, because we have<br />

practiced longing at least annually, during Advent.<br />

Advent is a time of vigilance, alertness, expectation. We are<br />

eager for the arrival of Christ, so we pay close attention to<br />

our life of prayer, our moral life, the way we treat others, and<br />

the way we express our love for God. We should not allow<br />

ourselves to experience “Xmas fatigue” long before Dec. <strong>25</strong><br />

rolls around.<br />

We should, if necessary, fast from the radio so that we don’t<br />

hear an endless round of misplaced seasonal carols beginning<br />

the day after Thanksgiving, or fast from TV programming<br />

that anticipates Christmas fulfillment during Advent’s<br />

waiting. We should also show others that it is possible to buy<br />

for Christmas without bowing idolatrously to commercialism.<br />

The Church is a refuge from a premature nativity. Catholic<br />

churches feel different during Advent. In the Mass, we<br />

eliminate the Gloria, because that is a Christmas song, the<br />

chant of the angels at the birth in Bethlehem (Luke 2:14). In<br />

fact, choirs and musicians are supposed to refrain from using<br />

any Christmas<br />

“The Star of Bethlehem,”<br />

by Edward Burne-Jones,<br />

1833-1898, English. |<br />


music during<br />

Advent liturgies.<br />

Hope is the<br />

reason for<br />

the season,<br />

and Jesus Christ is certainly worth<br />

the wait. We could not reasonably<br />

expect a better Christmas present<br />

than Simeon and Anna received<br />

during that first octave of Christmas<br />

(Luke 2:<strong>25</strong>–38). They had waited<br />

long lives, not merely four weeks.<br />

Think, too, of the Magi, who had<br />

scanned the skies in hope, looking<br />

for a sign.<br />

We know him “already,” but still<br />

“not yet.” So let’s keep our days as<br />

we should, looking for signs and<br />

then rejoicing in the mystery of the<br />

Incarnation.<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>


Lourdes Virtual Pilgrimage Experience. Our Lady of<br />

Refuge Church, 5195 E. Stearns St., Long Beach, 4-6 p.m.<br />

The next best thing to visiting Lourdes itself is a pilgrimage<br />

journey without the travel! Free event, donations welcomed.<br />

Call 562-498-6641.<br />


Catholic Maker Advent Market. St. Francis de Sales<br />

Church, 13360 Valleyheart Dr., Sherman Oaks, 9 a.m.-8<br />

p.m. Market features Catholic artisan and author booths,<br />

live music, speakers on faith and liturgical living, seasonal<br />

and festive food vendors, activities for kids, Meet a Saint<br />

story hour, film screening, and Q&A. For more information,<br />

email info@catholicmaker.com.<br />

Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pauline Books &<br />

Media, 3908 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, 1-3 p.m. Families<br />

are invited for prayers, songs, food, crafts, and more. Free<br />

event. Call 310-397-8678 or email culvercity@paulinemedia.com.<br />


Las Mañanitas a La Virgen de Guadalupe. Cathedral of<br />

Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 6<br />

p.m.-Dec. 12, 1 a.m. Annual celebration will include dances,<br />

veneration of the relic of the tilma of St. Juan Diego and<br />

the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and “Las Mañanitas.”<br />

Ends with midnight Mass celebrated by Archbishop José H.<br />

Gomez. For more, visit lacatholics.org/events.<br />


Memorial Mass. San Fernando Mission, <strong>15</strong><strong>15</strong>1 San<br />

Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills, 11 a.m. Mass is<br />

virtual and not open to the public. Livestream available at<br />

catholiccm.org or facebook.com/lacatholics.<br />

LACBA Unlawful Detainer Answer Clinic. LA Law<br />

Library, 301 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, 12-3 p.m. Providing<br />

limited assistance with reviewing unlawful detainer complaints,<br />

jury demands, fee waiver requests, and more. Open<br />

to the disabled veteran community in Los Angeles County.<br />

Spanish assistance available. RSVP to 213-896-6536 or<br />

email inquiries-veterans@lacba.org.<br />

Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day Celebration. St. Barnabas<br />

Church, 3955 Orange Ave., Long Beach, 6:30 p.m.<br />

Mass followed by free reception. Bring small images and<br />

statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe to be blessed. For more<br />

information, visit stbarnabaslb.org.<br />


Young Adult Rosary. Morgan Park, 4100 Baldwin Park<br />

Blvd., Baldwin Park, 6 p.m. Rosary for young adults and<br />

youth groups. Meets on the 13th of every month through<br />

<strong>December</strong>. Wear your ministry uniform and bring a flag or<br />

banner.<br />

St. Padre Pio Mass. St. Anne Church, 340 10th St., Seal<br />

Beach, 1 p.m. Celebrant: Father Al Baca. For more information,<br />

call 562-537-4526.<br />


Advent Penance Service. St. Barnabas Church, 3955<br />

Orange Ave., Long Beach, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Various priests<br />

available to hear confessions.<br />

■ FRIDAY, DECEMBER <strong>15</strong><br />

Simbang Gabi Celebration. Cathedral of Our Lady of<br />

the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 6:30 p.m.<br />

Celebrant: Archbishop José H. Gomez. Parade of Parols<br />

will precede the liturgy to kick off Simbang Gabi. For a full<br />

schedule of Simbang Gabi Masses, visit angelusnews.com.<br />

Posadas Celebrations. Dec. <strong>15</strong>, 17-19, 21-23, St. Louis of<br />

France Church, 13935 E. Temple Ave., La Puente, 7 p.m.<br />

Dec. 16, Familia Cortez, 453 Broadmoor Ave., La Puente, 7<br />

p.m., Dec. 20, La Puente City Park, 501 Glendora Ave., La<br />

Puente. For more information, visit https://stlouisoffrancechurch-lapuente.org/.<br />


A Traditional Posada. Panorama Presbyterian Church,<br />

14201 Roscoe Blvd., Panorama City, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.<br />

Hosted by the Ministry of Assistance to the Families of the<br />

Incarcerated, the event includes traditional requests at the<br />

inn, prayer service, Christmas songs, entertainment, lunch,<br />

games, and raffles. To register, call Deacon Paulino Juarez-<br />

Ramirez at 213-278-2069 or 213-637-7532.<br />


Wagner Ensemble Holiday Concert: A French Christmas.<br />

St. Francis de Sales Church, 13370 Valleyheart Dr.,<br />

Sherman Oaks, 4 p.m. Program includes a festive selection<br />

of French carols, with Wagner Ensemble accompanied by<br />

noted pianist Robert Blake. Cost: $20/general admission,<br />

$<strong>15</strong>/seniors and students. Buy tickets at wagnerensemble.<br />

eventbrite.com. Call 310-339-2488.<br />

Advent Vespers and Harp Concert. Holy Spirit Retreat<br />

Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 7 p.m. For more information,<br />

visit hsrcenter.com or call 818-8<strong>15</strong>-4480.<br />


A Real Encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. St. Dorothy<br />

Church, 241 S. Valley Center Ave., Glendora, 10 a.m.-12<br />

p.m. or 7-9 p.m. Led by Msgr. Lorenzo Miranda, conference<br />

is offered Mon., Dec. 18 and Tues., Dec. 19, in the morning<br />

or afternoon. Visit stdorothy.org for more information.<br />


Children’s Bureau: Foster Care Zoom Orientation. 4-5<br />

p.m. Children’s Bureau is now offering two virtual ways for<br />

individuals and couples to learn how to help children in<br />

foster care while reunifying with birth families or how to<br />

provide legal permanency by adoption. A live Zoom orientation<br />

will be hosted by a Children’s Bureau team member<br />

and a foster parent. For those who want to learn at their<br />

own pace about becoming a foster and/or fost-adopt parent,<br />

an online orientation presentation is available. To RSVP<br />

for the live orientation or to request the online orientation,<br />

email rfrecruitment@all4kids.org.<br />

Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial. Cathedral of<br />

Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 7 p.m.<br />


“God’s GPS: The Road Less Traveled” New Year’s Retreat.<br />

Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino. Retreat<br />

runs Friday, 2 p.m.-Sunday, 12 p.m. For more information,<br />

visit hsrcenter.com or call 818-8<strong>15</strong>-4480.<br />


La Befana Celebration. Our Lady of Perpetual Help<br />

Church, 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall, 12 p.m. Hosted by<br />

the Italian Catholic Club of SCV, includes Italian dinner,<br />

puppeteer, dancing, and Italian Santa Claus with gifts for<br />

children. Cost: $<strong>25</strong>/adults, $10/children 7-16, under 7 free.<br />

RSVP to Anna Riggs at 661-645-7877.<br />

Items for the calendar of events are due four weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be emailed to calendar@angelusnews.com.<br />

All calendar items must include the name, date, time, address of the event, and a phone number for additional information.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>15</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 33

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