Angelus News | December 29, 2023 | Vol. 8 No. 26

On the cover: Local journalist and musician Rosy Oros had her “Guadalupe moment” with Our Lady at this year’s “Las Mañanitas” celebration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Dec. 11-12. On Page 10, Angelus contributor Theresa Cisneros has the story of the near-death experience that Oros believes she survived only thanks to the prayers of the Virgin she’s held close to since childhood.

On the cover: Local journalist and musician Rosy Oros had her “Guadalupe moment” with Our Lady at this year’s “Las Mañanitas” celebration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Dec. 11-12. On Page 10, Angelus contributor Theresa Cisneros has the story of the near-death experience that Oros believes she survived only thanks to the prayers of the Virgin she’s held close to since childhood.


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An LA singer’s ‘Mañanitas’ miracle<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 8 <strong>No</strong>. <strong>26</strong>

B • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>


<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 8 • <strong>No</strong>. <strong>26</strong><br />

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Local journalist and musician Rosy Oros had her “Guadalupe<br />

moment” with Our Lady at this year’s “Las Mañanitas”<br />

celebration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels<br />

Dec. 11-12. On Page 10, <strong>Angelus</strong> contributor Theresa<br />

Cisneros has the story of the near-death experience that<br />

Oros believes she survived only thanks to the prayers of<br />

the Virgin she’s held close to since childhood.<br />



Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Paris inserts the relics of Sts.<br />

Denis, Genevieve, and the relics of Christ’s crown of thorns<br />

into the golden rooster in Paris Dec. 16, prior to its installation<br />

at the top of the spire of the <strong>No</strong>tre Dame Cathedral.<br />

The rooster symbolizes resilience amid destruction after<br />

the devastating April 2019 fire that nearly destroyed the<br />

church.<br />

Associate Editor<br />


Multimedia Editor<br />


Production Artist<br />


Photo Editor<br />


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Assistant Editor<br />


Advertising Manager<br />


jagarcia@angelusnews.com<br />

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World, Nation, and Local <strong>News</strong>.......................................................................................... 4-6<br />

In Other Words............................................................................................................................. 7<br />

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


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14<br />

16<br />

18<br />

20<br />

24<br />

<strong>26</strong><br />

28<br />

30<br />

The growing army of volunteers behind the success of ‘Adopt-a-Family’<br />

Eighty-nine-year-old ‘Sister T’ has always had a heart for the sick<br />

John Allen breaks down a once-mighty Vatican cardinal’s guilty verdict<br />

Meet Finland’s new bishop and his long list of dreams<br />

Why the manger of Christmas holds the key to Christian life<br />

Greg Erlandson: Searching for peace when no one seems to want it<br />

What’s a Japanese anime legend’s farewell film trying to tell us?<br />

Heather King: How it feels to write your own obituary<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 1


An AI warning<br />

All forms of artificial intelligence<br />

should be used to alleviate<br />

human suffering, not increase<br />

inequality and injustice in the world,<br />

Pope Francis said in his message for<br />

World Peace Day 2024.<br />

“Artificial intelligence ought to serve<br />

our best human potential and our highest<br />

aspirations, not compete with them,”<br />

the pope said in his message for the Jan.<br />

1 commemoration.<br />

The message, “Artificial Intelligence<br />

and Peace,” was addressed to all men<br />

and women in the world, and in particular<br />

to heads of state and government,<br />

and the leaders of the different religions<br />

and civil society. It was released Dec. 14<br />

at a Vatican news conference.<br />

The pope’s message highlighted the<br />

“need to strengthen or, if necessary, to<br />

establish bodies charged with examining<br />

the ethical issues arising in this field<br />

and protecting the rights of those who<br />

employ forms of artificial intelligence or<br />

are affected by them.”<br />

The impact of any form of artificial<br />

intelligence “depends not only on its<br />

technical design, but also on the aims<br />

and interests of its owners and developers,<br />

and on the situations in which it<br />

will be employed,” he said.<br />

Positive outcomes “will only be<br />

achieved if we show ourselves capable<br />

of acting responsibly and respect such<br />

fundamental human values as ‘inclusion,<br />

transparency, security, equity, privacy,<br />

and reliability,’ ” the pope added.<br />

The huge advances in new information<br />

technologies, he said, “offer<br />

exciting opportunities and grave risks,<br />

with serious implications for the pursuit<br />

of justice and harmony among peoples.”<br />

Questions must be asked, the pope<br />

said, about the impact of these technologies<br />

on people’s lives and on international<br />

peace.<br />

In his message, Francis pinpointed<br />

specific technologies and advancements<br />

in the world of artificial intelligence that<br />

require urgent attention and oversight<br />

such as: machine or deep learning;<br />

surveillance systems; social credit or<br />

ranking systems; and lethal autonomous<br />

weapons systems or LAWs.<br />

The weaponization of artificial<br />

intelligence through LAWs, he said,<br />

“is a cause for grave ethical concern.<br />

Autonomous weapon systems can never<br />

be morally responsible subjects,” and<br />

so “it is imperative to ensure adequate,<br />

meaningful, and consistent human<br />

oversight of weapon systems.”<br />

Francis also called on the global<br />

community of nations to work together<br />

to adopt “a binding international treaty<br />

that regulates the development and<br />

use of artificial intelligence in its many<br />

forms.”<br />

Regulation should aim not only at<br />

preventing harmful practices but also at<br />

encouraging best practices, he added.<br />

Fundamentally, he said, in a world<br />

of seemingly limitless technological<br />

possibilities, people risk falling prey to a<br />

“technocratic system,” which “allies the<br />

economy with technology and privileges<br />

the criterion of efficiency, tending to<br />

ignore anything unrelated to its immediate<br />

interests.”<br />

“In an obsessive desire to control<br />

everything, we risk losing control over<br />

ourselves,” he said. “In the quest for an<br />

absolute freedom, we risk falling into<br />

the spiral of a ‘technological dictatorship.’<br />

”<br />

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

Agency.<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>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>



Love comes down on Christmas<br />

Merry Christmas!<br />

On Christmas we celebrate<br />

the Love of God who comes<br />

down from the highest heaven to<br />

make his home with us here on earth.<br />

The Child, wrapped in swaddling<br />

clothes and laid tenderly in a manger<br />

by his mother, is the Love who<br />

created the universe, the Love who<br />

created each one of us, and the Love<br />

who still moves the sun and moon<br />

and sustains everything that lives and<br />

has breath.<br />

Jesus is born in the dark night, in the<br />

poverty of a stable, to a poor mother<br />

and her husband. The only ones who<br />

know are the simple shepherds out in<br />

the fields who hear the angels singing<br />

high above in the heavens.<br />

This is more than an ancient story<br />

that we remember once a year. It’s a<br />

story that you and I are now a part of.<br />

Christmas is the feast of divine love!<br />

The Christmas mystery is the mystery<br />

of God’s love for you and me, and for<br />

every person.<br />

God who is Love comes down to us<br />

in all humility, exchanging his divinity<br />

for a share in our humanity.<br />

Jesus comes, just as the prophet<br />

Isaiah promised he would, like “a<br />

great light” breaking into this “land of<br />

gloom.” He comes to light our path<br />

through this world of darkness.<br />

And in his glorious light we see our<br />

life’s true worth. We see why we are<br />

here, and who we are made to be!<br />

You are precious to God! That is the<br />

meaning of this holy day. Love came<br />

down from heaven for you.<br />

Jesus takes on our likeness so that he<br />

can be near to us in our hopes and<br />

dreams, in our joys and sorrows. He<br />

takes on our likeness, so that we can<br />

become like him.<br />

Jesus is born a child of Mary, so that<br />

we can be born again as children of<br />

God.<br />

This is what Christmas discloses:<br />

that God desires you to become his<br />

beloved sons and daughters. We<br />

should let that truth fill our lives.<br />

This wondrous God, whom the<br />

prophet called “Father-Forever,” loves<br />

you with a love that is beyond all<br />

telling, a love that begins in his own<br />

heart and calls you to a love that will<br />

never end in heaven.<br />

We need to take the spirit of Christmas<br />

into our hearts, and accept the<br />

beautiful gift of our Savior’s love.<br />

The first Christians used to say, “We<br />

have come to know and to believe in<br />

the love God has for us.”<br />

We too need to know and believe<br />

in God’s love for us. He loves the<br />

world so much, he loves you and me<br />

so much, that he sent his only Son to<br />

save us from our sins and free us from<br />

death.<br />

Jesus made his whole life a gift,<br />

an offering of his love for you. On<br />

Christmas day, he is born for you and<br />

is laid in a manger. But when he is<br />

grown, he will lay down his life for<br />

you on a cross.<br />

He comes to live and die and rise so<br />

that we might have a new life through<br />

him. This is how much your life is<br />

worth to God.<br />

And this wondrous love asks for an<br />

answer from us.<br />

We all have things in our lives that<br />

we regret, the bitter fruits of selfishness,<br />

sin, and weakness. God knows<br />

our limitations. But Love has come<br />

down for us, and now the darkness is<br />

passing away, the true light is already<br />

shining, showing us the way forward.<br />

“For a Child is born to us, a Son is<br />

given to us,” the prophet said. In the<br />

Child we meet in the manger, our<br />

sins are forgiven, every burden of the<br />

past is lifted.<br />

If we believe in his love, if we follow<br />

in his footsteps, he will give us the<br />

power to become children of God, to<br />

live and love with joy!<br />

My Christmas wish is that you will<br />

know and believe in God’s love for<br />

you!<br />

Like the shepherds, let us hasten to<br />

the manger to welcome the Child<br />

with reverence and thanksgiving.<br />

One of the saints used to greet the<br />

morning this way: “Blessed be this<br />

new day, which is Christmas for the<br />

earth, since Jesus wants to live it in<br />

me again.”<br />

Jesus wants to be born in your heart<br />

and mine, just as he was born of<br />

Mary. Through you and through me,<br />

he wants to meet the people of our<br />

On Christmas day, Jesus is born for you and is<br />

laid in a manger. But when he is grown, he will lay<br />

down his life for you on a cross.<br />

time, to love them and serve them<br />

and save them. Love comes down<br />

from heaven so that we can love and<br />

be loved.<br />

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

And in this holy season, surrounded<br />

by the light of Love, let us ask the<br />

Virgin Mary to help her Son to be<br />

born in all of us once again.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

■ Pope Francis won’t be buried in the Vatican<br />

Pope Francis said he’ll be buried in the Roman Basilica of St.<br />

Mary Major, instead of the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, in a new<br />

interview.<br />

Francis, who turned 87 on Dec. 18, told Mexican news outlet N+<br />

that he’s developed a “great devotion” to the Church over the years<br />

and that his burial place there is “already prepared.” He also said<br />

he’s been preparing the rites for his funeral.<br />

“We simplified them quite a bit,” he said, and jokingly added that<br />

“I will premiere the new ritual.”<br />

The last pope to be buried somewhere other than St. Peter’s<br />

Basilica was Pope Leo XIII in 1903. Francis will be only the seventh<br />

pope to be buried at St. Mary Major, and the first since Pope<br />

Clement IX in 1669.<br />

Pope Francis prays before the icon of Mary, “Salus Populi Romani,” in the<br />

Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome April 1. | HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE<br />

■ Two Gaza Christians killed by Israeli sniper<br />

A mother and daughter were allegedly shot and killed by an Israel Defense Forces sniper at Gaza’s only Catholic parish.<br />

According to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Nahida and her daughter Samar were shot while walking to a convent<br />

at Holy Family Parish compound Dec. 16.<br />

“One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety,” the patriarchate said, adding that seven more people were shot<br />

and wounded while trying to protect others in the church compound.<br />

The same day, the patriarchate said, an Israel tank fired at a Missionaries of Charity convent that is home to “54 disabled<br />

persons and is part of the church compound, which was signaled as a place of worship since the beginning of the war.”<br />

<strong>No</strong> deaths were reported, but the attack left the home “uninhabitable” and some displaced patients were without access<br />

to respirators.<br />

As of press time, Israeli authorities had not commented on the incidents.<br />

Our Lady remains — A man holds a statue of Mary during a procession on the perimeter of<br />

the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, <strong>No</strong>v. <strong>26</strong>, as part of traditional Immaculate<br />

Conception celebrations. The limited procession came after Nicaragua’s government banned<br />

street processions this year due to unspecified security concerns. | OSV NEWS/MAYNOR<br />


■ Vatican issues update to<br />

cremation guidelines<br />

The Vatican’s chief doctrinal official appeared to<br />

loosen restrictions on burying cremated remains.<br />

A senior Italian cardinal had sent an inquiry to<br />

the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith asking<br />

whether commingling the ashes of two or more<br />

cremated people was permissible, and whether a<br />

portion of ashes could be kept in a personal place.<br />

To the first question, dicastery prefect Cardinal<br />

Víctor Manuel Fernández answered yes, provided<br />

that they be placed in “a defined and permanent<br />

sacred place” where the deceased’s names can be<br />

indicated.<br />

To the second, he said Church authorities can<br />

grant permission to such a request under certain<br />

conditions, including that “every type of pantheistic,<br />

naturalistic, or nihilistic misunderstanding”<br />

be ruled and that a “sacred place” is used.<br />

“We can’t have urns of, say, your mother or your<br />

grandmother being placed on the mantle in your<br />

house, which a lot of people want to do,” Dominican<br />

theologian Father Thomas Petri, told EWTN<br />

<strong>News</strong> Nightly when asked about the update.<br />

“That’s just not the Christian practice.”<br />

4 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

NATION<br />

Mary’s Lone Star milestone — A lighted projection of Our Lady of Guadalupe is seen<br />

on the exterior of the National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dallas<br />

on her feast day, Dec. 12. This was the first celebration of the feast of Our Lady of<br />

Guadalupe since the cathedral had been elevated to a national shrine by the U.S. Conference<br />


■ SCOTUS passes on<br />

conversion therapy, again<br />

Three Catholic Supreme Court justices challenged<br />

their court’s decision not to hear a case dealing with<br />

how to best help minors who want to change their<br />

sexual orientation or gender identity.<br />

The case was filed by a faith-based Washington state<br />

family and marriage counselor challenging his state’s<br />

ban on what is sometimes described as “conversion<br />

therapy.” In his dissent from the court’s decision,<br />

Justice Clarence Thomas argued that Washington’s law<br />

censored one side of the debate.<br />

“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation,<br />

it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe<br />

what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism,<br />

religion, or other matters of opinion,” wrote Justice<br />

Thomas. “Yet, under SB 5722, licensed counselors<br />

cannot voice anything other than the state-approved<br />

opinion on minors with gender dysphoria without<br />

facing punishment.”<br />

The challenge is the fourth to be rejected by the<br />

courts since California’s first-in-the-nation law banning<br />

the practice in 2014. Thomas was joined by Justice<br />

Samuel Alito Jr. and Justice Brett Kavanaugh in voting<br />

to hear the case.<br />

■ The FBI’s Catholic conundrum<br />

A recent report revealed that the FBI did not have a working definition of “Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology (RTC),”<br />

when its Richmond field office issued a memo warning that “RTC” posed a rising domestic threat.<br />

“The basis for the Richmond memorandum relied on a single investigation in the Richmond Field Office’s area of responsibility<br />

in which the subject ‘self-described’ as a ‘radical-traditionalist Catholic,’ ” read a Dec. 4 report from the Select Subcommittee<br />

on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.<br />

“However, FBI employees could not define the meaning of an RTC when preparing, editing, or reviewing the memorandum,”<br />

the report continues. “Even so, this single investigation became the basis for an FBI-wide memorandum warning<br />

about the dangers of ‘radical’ Catholics.”<br />

While FBI director Christopher Wray maintains that the memo — which called for “new mitigation opportunities” to<br />

combat traditional Catholic communities — was the product only of the Richmond office, the report continued the subcommittee’s<br />

allegation that four offices contributed, including Los Angeles.<br />

■ Reggaeton legend Daddy<br />

Yankee ends career ‘for Christ’<br />

Puerto Rican reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee has announced he’s ending his<br />

30-year career in order to “live for Christ.”<br />

Born Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, Ayala has been ranked one of the top 100<br />

global influencers, topped the charts in over 50 countries under his stage name,<br />

and brought in an estimated $120 million on his latest tour.<br />

“I realized something that the Bible says, what’s it worth to a man to gain the<br />

whole world if he loses his soul,” Ayala wrote in a Dec. 4 Instagram post.<br />

“I recognize and am not ashamed to tell the whole world: Jesus lives in me<br />

and I will live for him,” he continued. “A new story is going to begin, a new<br />

beginning, all the tools that I have in my possession, such as music, social media,<br />

platforms, a microphone, everything that Jesus gave me is now for the kingdom.”<br />

Daddy Yankee at a New Year’s 2022 performance in Puerto<br />



<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

LOCAL<br />

■ Unclaimed dead remembered at interfaith service<br />

Nearly 2,000 unclaimed bodies were buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles<br />

as part of an interfaith ceremony annually put on by the LA County Board of<br />

Supervisors.<br />

Auxiliary Bishop Brian Nunes and Father Chris Ponnet, pastor at St. Camillus<br />

Center for Spiritual Care, were among those praying at the event, remembering<br />

1,937 people who died in 2020, but whose bodies were unclaimed, were cremated,<br />

and laid to rest. Ponnet said the number of unclaimed dead is higher than normal,<br />

likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

“The key piece is that we believe in the dignity of each person,” Ponnet said.<br />

“That includes while they’re in the womb, and while they’re alive as well as when<br />

they die. So this is a moment in which we as churches, but also uniquely run by<br />

the Board of Supervisors, a government entity, that sees these people with a sense of<br />

respect and dignity that many other entities don’t.”<br />

Waiting for baby Jesus — The Saints Among Us ministry at St. Mel Church in Woodland Hills, which provides<br />

accessible activities and resources for families and children with special needs, presented a Christmas pageant on Dec.<br />

10 in its auditorium. | ST. MEL CHURCH<br />

■ Sacramento Diocese<br />

to file for bankruptcy<br />

The Diocese of Sacramento announced<br />

it would file for bankruptcy<br />

as a measure to resolve more<br />

than 250 sexual abuse lawsuits filed<br />

after California passed a law allowing<br />

victims to file claims after the<br />

statute of limitations had ended.<br />

In a letter Dec. 9, Bishop Jaime<br />

Soto emphasized that only the<br />

administrative office of the bishop<br />

would seek bankruptcy protection,<br />

while parishes, schools, and other<br />

Catholic organizations affiliated<br />

with the diocese “would be largely<br />

unaffected.”<br />

In an FAQ webpage about the<br />

bankruptcy, the site said that “more<br />

than 80 percent” of the 250-plus<br />

claims are from the 1980s or earlier,<br />

with only six cases occurring<br />

after safeguards were implemented<br />

in 2002.<br />

“The sickening evil that was perpetrated<br />

upon innocent children<br />

— and the failure of church leadership<br />

to address it appropriately —<br />

has caused unfathomable pain that<br />

endures,” Soto said. “It is these sins<br />

that brought us to this place.<br />

“The pain inflicted on them lasts<br />

a lifetime, and so our atonement<br />

must be a lifetime commitment.”<br />

Y<br />

Staff at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Sherman Oaks with some of the gifts<br />

donated to help families. | YANNINA DIAZ<br />

■ Needy families get Christmas<br />

surprise from Sherman Oaks school<br />

Staff and students at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School<br />

in Sherman Oaks partnered with the HoldYou Foundation<br />

to provide Christmas gifts for several families who have<br />

young ones battling a life-threatening illness.<br />

The staff sponsored a family whose 1-year-old son is<br />

battling a rare cancer-like condition for which he is undergoing<br />

chemotherapy. <strong>No</strong>t only were gifts provided for the<br />

boy, but also for his five siblings. Additionally, fourth-grade<br />

students donated gifts to two other families: one with a<br />

baby who was in the NICU and whose mother is on dialysis,<br />

and another with a 2-year-old who has eye cancer.<br />

“I just think families are very deserving of being able to<br />

care for their sick children and there’s not a system to catch<br />

them,” said Natalie Hill, HoldYou’s founder whose husband,<br />

Dominic Campanella, is a fourth-grade teacher at St. Francis de Sales. “So we just are that safety net support system.”<br />

For more information and to donate, visit holdyou.org.<br />

6 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

V<br />


Letters to the Editor<br />

A catechetical moment with the ‘Gloria’<br />

In my 17 years of priesthood, I cannot tell you how many times on<br />

the first Sunday of Advent or Lent people would come up to me after<br />

Mass and say, “Father, you forgot the ‘Gloria,’ OK?” I wish I would have had the<br />

excellent article written by Mike Aquilina that I recently came across in the Dec.<br />

15 issue of <strong>Angelus</strong> magazine.<br />

I am so thankful for this treasure of an article as it has been a tremendous gift to<br />

share with my parishioners this Advent season with its simple-to-follow explanation<br />

and practical application of the “Gloria.”<br />

I look forward to reading more such timely pieces from your publication.<br />

— Father Tony Steinacker, pastor, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Huntington,<br />

Indiana<br />

Editor’s note<br />

Due to the holidays, the following issue of <strong>Angelus</strong> will be delivered to subscribers<br />

the weekend of Jan. 12, 2024, and the issue after that the weekend of Jan. 19,<br />

resuming our normal biweekly publication schedule.<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 />

Simbang Gabi takes off at the cathedral<br />

“We are told over 365 times<br />

to ‘fear not.’ That’s at least<br />

one ‘fear not’ for every day<br />

of the year.”<br />

~ Anne Ortlund, in a Dec. 8 Desiring God<br />

commentary by her daughter-in-law, Jani.<br />

“It’s not just ‘go away for a<br />

year’ — he’s not coming<br />

back.”<br />

~ Father Michael Tix, vicar general of the<br />

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in a Dec. 15<br />

National Catholic Register article on a U.S. shortage<br />

of extern priests due to changing immigration rules.<br />

“I’m a normal person, just<br />

like you all, going through a<br />

call from God.”<br />

~ Leda Bergonzi, a Catholic faith healer, in a Dec.<br />

15 Washington Post article on the thousands who<br />

come to see her for healing in Argentina.<br />

“You only rejoice that the<br />

landlord is coming if you’re<br />

all paid up on your bill.”<br />

~ Benedictine College, in a Dec. 14 commentary on<br />

whether people would rejoice or be prepared if Christ<br />

came today.<br />

Filipino Catholics had a chance to inspect one another’s colorful “parols” after the annual Simbang Gabi kickoff Mass<br />

Dec. 15 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. | VICTOR ALEMÁN<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 />

“A Church increasingly<br />

identified with Christ<br />

supports itself only with the<br />

power of truth, and every<br />

time it does so using the<br />

power of lies it will betray its<br />

Founder.”<br />

~ Seventy-eight-year-old Vatican journalist Luis<br />

Badilla, in a Dec. 17 message announcing the end of<br />

his long-running Church blog “Il Sismografo.”<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</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 />

Quiet prophecy<br />

Christian discipleship calls all of<br />

us to be prophetic, to be advocates<br />

for justice, to help give<br />

voice to the poor, and to defend truth.<br />

But not all of us, by temperament or<br />

by particular vocation, are called to<br />

civil disobedience, public demonstrations,<br />

and the picket lines, as were<br />

Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King,<br />

Daniel Berrigan, and other such<br />

prophetic figures. All are asked to be<br />

prophetic, but for some this means<br />

more wielding a basin and towel than<br />

wielding a placard.<br />

There is a powerful way of being<br />

prophetic that, while seemingly quiet<br />

and personal, is never private. And<br />

its rules are the same as the rules for<br />

those who, in the name of Jesus, are<br />

wielding placards and risking civil<br />

disobedience. What are those rules,<br />

rules for a Christian prophecy?<br />

First, a prophet makes a vow of<br />

love, not of alienation. There is a<br />

critical distinction between stirring up<br />

trouble and offering prophecy out of<br />

love, a distinction between operating<br />

out of egoism and operating out of<br />

faith and hope. A prophet risks misunderstanding,<br />

but never seeks it, and a<br />

prophet seeks always to have a mellow<br />

rather than an angry heart.<br />

Second, a prophet draws his or her<br />

cause from Jesus and not from an<br />

ideology. Ideologies can carry a lot<br />

of truth and be genuine advocates for<br />

justice. But, people can walk away<br />

from an ideology, seeing it precisely as<br />

an ideology, as political correctness,<br />

and thus justify their rejection of the<br />

truth it carries.<br />

Sincere people often walk away from<br />

Greenpeace, from Feminism, or Liberation<br />

Theology, from Critical Race<br />

Theory, and many other ideologies,<br />

which in fact carry a lot of truth because<br />

those truths are wrapped inside<br />

an ideology. Sincere people will not<br />

walk away from Jesus. In our struggle<br />

for justice and truth, we must be ever<br />

vigilant that we are drawing our truth<br />

from the Gospels and not from some<br />

ideology.<br />

Third, a prophet is committed to<br />

nonviolence. A prophet is always<br />

seeking to personally disarm rather<br />

than to arm, to be in the words of<br />

Daniel Berrigan, a “powerless criminal<br />

in a time of criminal power.” A<br />

prophet takes Jesus seriously when he<br />

asks us, in the face of violence, to turn<br />

the other cheek. A prophet incarnates<br />

in his or her way of living the eschatological<br />

truth that in heaven there will<br />

be no guns.<br />

Fourth, a prophet articulates God’s<br />

voice for the poor and for the earth.<br />

Any preaching, teaching, or political<br />

action that is not good news for the<br />

poor is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.<br />

Jesus came to bring good news to<br />

the poor, to “widows, orphans, and<br />

strangers” (biblical code for the most<br />

vulnerable groups in society). As<br />

Pastor James Forbes Jr. once famously<br />

said, “<strong>No</strong>body gets into heaven<br />

without a letter of reference from the<br />

poor.” We are not meant to be the<br />

church compatible.<br />

Fifth, a prophet doesn’t foretell<br />

the future but properly names the<br />

present in terms of God’s vision of<br />

things. A prophet reads where the<br />

finger of God is within everyday life,<br />

in function of naming our fidelity<br />

or infidelity to God and in function<br />

of pointing to our future in terms of<br />

God’s plan for us. This is Jesus’ challenge<br />

to read the signs of the times.<br />

Sixth, a prophet speaks out of a<br />

horizon of hope. A prophet draws<br />

his or her vision and energy not from<br />

wishful thinking nor from optimism,<br />

but from hope. And Christian hope<br />

is not based on whether the world<br />

situation is better or worse on a given<br />

day. Christian hope is based on God’s<br />

promise, a promise that was fulfilled<br />

in the resurrection of Jesus, which assures<br />

us that we can entrust ourselves<br />

to love, truth, and justice, even if the<br />

world kills us for it. The stone will<br />

always roll back from the tomb.<br />

Seventh, a prophet’s heart and<br />

cause are never a ghetto. Jesus<br />

assures us that in his Father’s house<br />

there are many rooms. Christian<br />

prophecy must ensure that no person<br />

or group can make God their own<br />

tribal or national deity. God is equally<br />

solicitous vis-à-vis all people and all<br />

nations.<br />

Finally, a prophet doesn’t just<br />

speak or write about injustice, a<br />

prophet also acts and acts with<br />

courage, even at the cost of death. A<br />

prophet is a wisdom figure, a Magus<br />

or a Sophia, who will act, no matter<br />

the cost in lost friends, lost prestige,<br />

lost freedom, or danger to his or her<br />

own life. A prophet has enough altruistic<br />

love, hope, and courage to act,<br />

no matter the cost. A prophet never<br />

seeks martyrdom but accepts it if it<br />

finds him or her.<br />

This last counsel is, I believe, the<br />

one most challenging for “quiet”<br />

prophets. Wisdom figures are not<br />

renowned for being on the picket<br />

lines, but in that lies the challenge.<br />

A prophet can discern at what time<br />

to park the placard and bring out the<br />

basin and towel — and at what time<br />

to lay aside the basin and towel and<br />

pick up the placard.<br />

8 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>


After Rosy Oros experienced near-death, the singer<br />

credits Our Lady of Guadalupe for saving her life.<br />


A photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe<br />

is displayed among the decorated<br />

floats at the 92nd procession and<br />

Mass at East LA College Stadium<br />

on Dec. 3. | VICTOR ALEMÁN<br />

Five years ago, Rosy Oros lay comatose<br />

in a hospital bed in Mexico<br />

— some 1,500 miles away from<br />

home — after experiencing complications<br />

from a medical procedure that<br />

had taken a drastic toll on her body and<br />

mind.<br />

She was suffering internal and external<br />

bleeding, her organs were damaged,<br />

and doctors gave her only a 2% chance<br />

of surviving.<br />

As she lay there on the brink of death,<br />

she finally opened her eyes and — in a<br />

haze — saw a familiar set of brown eyes<br />

gazing back at her, lovingly, that were<br />

very much still alive.<br />

Those eyes belonged to an image of<br />

Our Lady of Guadalupe hanging just a<br />

few feet away, at once filling her heart<br />

with love and hope that the Virgin<br />

Mary she’d held dear since childhood<br />

would intercede with Jesus to help her<br />

make it out of the clinic alive.<br />

Oros’ healing journey came full circle<br />

this month as she and a cadre of other<br />

musicians sang hymns of praise and<br />

thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe<br />

during the annual “Las Mañanitas” celebration<br />

at the Cathedral of Our Lady<br />

of the Angels in honor of her feast day.<br />

“I am so humbled and blessed to be<br />

able to stand there and in my own<br />

simple way give thanks to the Virgin,”<br />

Oros said. “It may seem insignificant<br />

but I know that she is receiving it with a<br />

lot of love and that it makes her happy,<br />

because she knows my heart.”<br />

At the Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels, the festivities ran from the<br />

evening of Dec. 11 into the early hours<br />

of Guadalupe’s feast day, Dec. 12.<br />

As in years past, the celebration<br />

featured Aztec and Ballet Folklorico<br />

dancers, veneration of the only relic of<br />

St. Juan Diego’s “tilma” in the U.S., the<br />

rosary, a musical tribute that included<br />

“Las Mañanitas,” and ended with<br />

midnight Mass, where Archbishop José<br />

H. Gomez said the Guadalupe story is<br />

a reminder that “Jesus Christ loves us so<br />

much that he came to share our hopes<br />

10 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

and dreams and to offer his life for us.”<br />

“Just as she did with Juan Diego, the<br />

most holy Mary entrusts each of us with<br />

a task. She has a message that she needs<br />

us to spread and she is sending us to tell<br />

the whole world about Jesus and his<br />

love and salvation.”<br />

Oros aimed to do just that as she and<br />

six other guest singers — including<br />

Latin Grammy-nominated Graciela<br />

Beltran — delivered individual serenades<br />

to the Virgin backed by Mariachi<br />

Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar.<br />

Oros — dressed in a floor-length gown<br />

and red shawl — carefully made her<br />

way onto the altar, set down a bouquet<br />

of red roses near two giant images<br />

of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St.<br />

Juan Diego bedecked with hundreds<br />

of flowers, and sang two songs to the<br />

Virgin while looking deep into the<br />

compassionate eyes that she’s come to<br />

know so well.<br />

It was a moment that she had trained<br />

for all her life.<br />

Oros was born in Aguascalientes,<br />

Mexico, into a family of nine that is<br />

both musically inclined and devoutly<br />

Catholic; one of her brothers spent six<br />

years in the seminary, while another is<br />

currently a Jesuit novice. She immigrated<br />

to Santa Maria in California as a<br />

preteen, and from a young age studied<br />

music theory and vocalization, singing<br />

to God and to Our Lady of Guadalupe.<br />

At 12, she discovered a love for<br />

Mexican “ranchera” music when her<br />

father bought her a copy of Linda<br />

Ronstadt’s 1987 album, “Canciones De<br />

Mi Padre” — in which the American<br />

singer recorded traditional mariachi<br />

songs that were of special significance<br />

to her family.<br />

“I would lock myself in my room and<br />

listen to the cassette over and over and<br />

over again until I learned all the songs,”<br />

she said. “I fell in love with Linda<br />

Ronstadt, with her voice, with her<br />

interpretation.”<br />

Since then, Oros has remained close<br />

to the singing world. She’s enjoyed a<br />

long career working in TV, radio, the<br />

recording industry, and now in publishing<br />

as editor-in-chief of Iconos, her<br />

own magazine highlighting music and<br />

entertainment news.<br />

While she’s remained mostly behind<br />

the scenes, she has recorded jingles,<br />

produced her own albums, and sings<br />

when the occasion arises. While living<br />

in New York, she had the chance to<br />

sing on the “Late Show with David<br />

Letterman,” for fashion designer Oscar<br />

de la Renta, and open for Mexican<br />

“ranchera” icon Vicente Fernández at<br />

Madison Square Garden.<br />

“Even though I liked to sing, for some<br />

reason, I felt like God didn’t want me to<br />

become a famous singer and I understood<br />

that and I accepted it with much<br />

love and humility,” Oros said. “And so<br />

now when there is an opportunity for<br />

me to sing or participate in a festival or<br />

a special event, I do it.”<br />

It was with that sense of humility that<br />

Oros accepted the chance to sing during<br />

this year’s “Mañanitas” celebration<br />

at the cathedral, out of gratitude for the<br />

role she said Our Lady played in saving<br />

her life just five years ago.<br />

In 2018, Oros went into septic shock,<br />

and then fell into a coma, after undergoing<br />

a medical procedure in Aguascalientes.<br />

After<br />

awakening, she<br />

suffered a cerebral<br />

thrombosis and<br />

other complications<br />

that worsened<br />

her prognosis.<br />

Drifting in and<br />

out of consciousness,<br />

she spent<br />

the early days of<br />

her recovery in<br />

a clinic named,<br />

aptly, for Our Lady<br />

of Guadalupe,<br />

where she said she<br />

experienced the<br />

love of Jesus for<br />

her through Mary.<br />

A pivotal point in<br />

her healing, she<br />

said, came when<br />

she and her husband<br />

received messages<br />

from Mary<br />

through a prayer<br />

group, assuring her<br />

Rosy Oros sings during<br />

the annual “Las Mañanitas”<br />

celebration at the<br />

Cathedral of Our Lady of<br />

the Angels on Dec. 11. |<br />


that Christ would save her through his<br />

mother’s intercession.<br />

“She said I am with you, do not be<br />

afraid,” Oros said. “You will heal from<br />

this but we will do this together, facing<br />

the sanctuary. In other words, she wanted<br />

me to get closer to her Son while<br />

holding her by the hand.”<br />

And that’s exactly what happened.<br />

Today, Oros’ body and faith have<br />

grown continually stronger. The Los<br />

Angeles resident and her husband are<br />

more devoted to the rosary, to Christ,<br />

and to the Church than ever. They regularly<br />

seek out ways to thank Mary for<br />

her hand in the healing — including<br />

making special pilgrimages with family<br />

and friends to the Basilica of Guadalupe<br />

when Oros’ work leads them to<br />

Mexico.<br />

“She interceded for me to live,” she<br />

said. “We always look for the opportunity<br />

to thank her and to be in communion<br />

with her.”<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

Performing during this year’s “Las<br />

Mañanitas” celebration at the cathedral<br />

was Oros’ way of showing gratitude to<br />

Our Lady, evangelizing through song,<br />

and pledging silently to the Virgin<br />

to become even more devoted to the<br />

rosary going forward.<br />

Directing her attention toward the<br />

framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe<br />

on the altar, she sang “Mi Querida<br />

Guadalupana” and “Hay Unos Ojos”<br />

— the latter being a song from Ronstadt’s<br />

“Canciones de Mi Padre” album<br />

in which the songwriter gushes over the<br />

beauty and sparkle of his beloved’s eyes.<br />

“The song is so appropriate,” she said,<br />

Attendees of the “Las<br />

Mañanitas” ceremony<br />

show reverence to the<br />

pilgrim images of Our<br />

Lady of Guadalupe and<br />

St. Juan Diego. | VICTOR<br />

ALEMÁN<br />

“Even though<br />

sometimes we are<br />

like lost sheep,<br />

she is always<br />

looking at us with<br />

eyes of love.”<br />

Surviving the<br />

near-fatal incident<br />

has shown<br />

Oros that Our Lady of Guadalupe is<br />

very much alive and is there to help all<br />

of her children, she said.<br />

“We may not be perfect, we may be<br />

sinners, we may fall, but in the end this<br />

is proof of the love and mercy of Christ<br />

through his mother. She is the key to<br />

the door that opens to Christ and to our<br />

salvation.”<br />

Theresa Cisneros is a freelance journalist<br />

with 24 years of experience in the<br />

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

Southern California resident and lives in<br />

Orange County with her husband and<br />

four children.<br />

A Filipino flow to ‘Las Mañanitas’<br />

Since Our Lady of Guadalupe is<br />

the patroness of the Philippines,<br />

the Filipino community also has a<br />

great devotion to the Virgin. So it was a<br />

great honor for Filipino dancers and a<br />

singer to be featured at the annual “Las<br />

Mañanitas” celebration of Our Lady<br />

of Guadalupe at the Cathedral of Our<br />

Lady of the Angels.<br />

The only hurdle for Monette De Guzman,<br />

the Filipina singer invited to sing<br />

during the event? She had never sung<br />

in Spanish before.<br />

“I thought I’d be singing in Tagalog,<br />

but they said it would be in Spanish,”<br />

De Guzman said. “So without even<br />

knowing what to sing, and wondering<br />

will I be able to memorize in Spanish, I<br />

just said yes, just like Mary said.”<br />

To prepare for singing two songs —<br />

“Ave Maria” and “Adiós, Oh Virgen”<br />

— De Guzman found the Spanish<br />

lyrics, then reached out to some of the<br />

Hispanic musicians at her church for<br />

help.<br />

But to go even further, she translated<br />

the lyrics into English, so she could<br />

understand what she was singing.<br />

“So I’d be able to put emotion,” she<br />

said.<br />

As she belted out both songs, swaying<br />

with the background music provided by<br />

mariachis, De Guzman couldn’t help<br />

but think of her own devotion to Our<br />

Lady of Guadalupe.<br />

“She’s like my first mother,” De<br />

Guzman said. “I even pray to her and<br />

talk to her first even before I talk to my<br />

mom because I can talk to her anytime.<br />

She inspires me when it comes to faith<br />

because it’s really hard to say yes to<br />

something you’re not sure of.<br />

“Knowing that Mary, because of her<br />

yes, it benefitted all of us.”<br />

A resident of <strong>No</strong>rthridge and a cantor<br />

at three churches — Our Lady of<br />

Lourdes Church in <strong>No</strong>rthridge, St. Genevieve<br />

Church in Panorama City, and<br />

Our Lady of Peace Church in <strong>No</strong>rth<br />

Hills — De Guzman was thrilled to<br />

Monette De Guzman | SUBMITTED PHOTO<br />

bring the Filipino heart, soul, and spirit<br />

into the event, but also to emphasize<br />

the universality of Mary.<br />

“I really feel that Mary is the mother<br />

of everyone, not just Filipinos,” she<br />

said. “I think it’s the start of something<br />

really beautiful that we’re embracing<br />

different ways of practicing our faith<br />

and showing our love to mother Mary.”<br />

— Mike Cisneros<br />

12 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 13

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers drop off gifts for families on Dec. 16 as part of the Archdiocese of<br />

Los Angeles’ Adopt-a-Family program that began in 1990. | VICTOR ALEMÁN<br />


HANDS<br />

For this year’s<br />

Adopt-a-Family<br />

army of volunteers,<br />

helping downtown<br />

LA’s neediest<br />

families was an<br />

opportunity to take<br />

Christmas more<br />

seriously.<br />


Juan Manuel was just settling in with<br />

two of his four kids after working<br />

a graveyard shift at a local freezer<br />

warehouse, when there was a sudden<br />

knock at their apartment door.<br />

At the door were Msgr. Terrance<br />

Fleming and Auxiliary Bishop Matthew<br />

Elshoff, with volunteers hauling<br />

dozens of donated gifts following close<br />

behind.<br />

Manuel said he works long hours to<br />

make ends meet, but after paying for<br />

food, rent, and bills, he doesn’t have<br />

much left for holiday purchases. Knowing<br />

that strangers united to provide his<br />

kids with likely the only presents they’ll<br />

receive this year fills him with gratitude<br />

and helps restore his faith in humanity,<br />

he said.<br />

“I’m very surprised that there is still<br />

a community out there that wants to<br />

help,” he said, “because nowadays, you<br />

don’t see that anymore. That’s what<br />

we all need sometimes, just that little<br />

helping hand.”<br />

The Manuels were one of the 456<br />

families that received food, clothes,<br />

toys, gift cards, household goods,<br />

and Christmas gifts this year through<br />

Adopt-a-Family, an outreach program<br />

of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles<br />

and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels that serves more than 1,000<br />

children annually and has assisted<br />

more than 13,000 families since its<br />

inception.<br />

What started as a simple toy giveaway<br />

organized by Fleming at the Cathedral<br />

of St. Vibiana 33 years ago has<br />

blossomed into an annual tradition that<br />

gives much-needed support to low-income<br />

families living in and around the<br />

cathedral boundaries, supported by<br />

individuals, schools, parishes, businesses,<br />

and other groups across the<br />

community.<br />

It’s an opportunity for the area’s<br />

mother church to minister to the less<br />

fortunate and share the love of Christ<br />

with others, said Fleming, executive<br />

director of the archdiocese’s Pontifical<br />

Mission Societies.<br />

“What better time than Christmas?”<br />

he said. “Jesus is born, there’s new life.”<br />

Just over 1,000 volunteers of all ages<br />

— donning maroon T-shirts emblazoned<br />

with “Adopt-A-Family” on the<br />

front and white angel wings on the<br />

back — gathered at the cathedral in<br />

the early morning hours of Dec. 16<br />

for a prayer service before fanning out<br />

across downtown Los Angeles and Skid<br />

Row to deliver the goods.<br />

Cathedral parishioner Vincent Rod-<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

iguez was among those who arrived<br />

just before dawn for the group send-off.<br />

Rodriguez said his family received<br />

charitable support from the church<br />

when he was a child and sees this effort<br />

as a way to pay it forward.<br />

“They used to give to us and now we<br />

get to give back,” said Rodriguez, who<br />

has volunteered for the past 15 years.<br />

“It’s a great blessing for us.”<br />

While many volunteers helped<br />

deliver the items, scores more helped<br />

behind the scenes by interviewing prospective<br />

participants and purchasing,<br />

wrapping, and sorting the gifts.<br />

Kayry Gonzalez, a volunteer for the<br />

past 12 years, is among those who interviewed<br />

program applicants. She said<br />

she’s often touched by their personal<br />

stories and feels privileged to be in a<br />

space where they open up to her about<br />

their lives.<br />

Distribution day is especially exciting<br />

for her, she said, because of the goodwill<br />

that abounds between volunteers<br />

and recipients.<br />

“You kind of feel like Santa a little<br />

bit,” she said, giggling. “Because you<br />

feel like you have an unlimited supply<br />

of people behind you, of gifts to give<br />

out. It’s a good feeling.”<br />

Timothy Grayson is among those who<br />

helped organize donations for delivery.<br />

Grayson, who works for Homeboy<br />

Industries, said he’s thankful to be able<br />

to play a role in bringing a sparkle to a<br />

child’s eyes this Christmas.<br />

Grayson said he was previously<br />

incarcerated, and that through volunteerism,<br />

he’s learning how to serve<br />

others and pay back society for his past<br />

transgressions.<br />

“I get to experience a new life for<br />

giving, instead of always taking,” he<br />

said, gazing out over the thousands of<br />

gifts in the cathedral parking garage<br />

that were set to be distributed later that<br />

morning.<br />

Program coordinator Lydia Gamboa<br />

said preparations for the annual gift<br />

distribution start in mid-August, when<br />

volunteers begin interviewing prospective<br />

participants about their needs and<br />

living situations.<br />

Organizers said many of the participating<br />

households are run by single<br />

parents who live with multiple children<br />

and family members in crowded<br />

one-unit or one-bedroom quarters.<br />

Gamboa said the program is especially<br />

needed at this time, when many<br />

people are still trying to get back on<br />

their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic<br />

and are struggling to pay for<br />

rent or utilities. In addition, many of<br />

this year’s recipients have experienced<br />

the sudden loss of a parent, spouse, or<br />

child due to illness, she said.<br />

A rewarding part of the effort is<br />

hearing from recipients who said they<br />

would not have been able to celebrate<br />

Christmas as a family had it not been<br />

for the program’s support, she said.<br />

“To know that we brought that to<br />

them is very satisfying,” she said.<br />

Many of this year’s recipients echoed<br />

that sentiment, thanking God for their<br />

benefactors’ generosity when Elshoff,<br />

Fleming, and program volunteers<br />

appeared at their doorstep bringing<br />

Christmas tidings and donated gifts.<br />

At one modest apartment building in<br />

the shadow of downtown high-rises, a<br />

mother happily accepted a shipment<br />

of presents on behalf of her children<br />

who were out of town visiting a sick<br />

relative, and presented volunteers with<br />

a bouquet of flowers as a token of her<br />

appreciation.<br />

A few doors down, teen Emma<br />

Crispino beamed with pride while<br />

posing for a photo with her parents,<br />

five siblings, and the clergymen after<br />

receiving presents and Christmas<br />

blessings.<br />

“I feel amazing because my family<br />

can barely afford gifts and knowing<br />

that the church gives it to us is nice,”<br />

she said.<br />

Back at the Manuel apartment, Juan<br />

Manuel pointed out that while he<br />

doesn’t have funds for a Christmas tree<br />

or decorations this year, he is resting<br />

easier knowing that donors are graciously<br />

fulfilling his kids’ requests for<br />

Spider-Man and Hello Kitty toys.<br />

“I’m just surprised and thankful,”<br />

Manuel said. “Everything is just so<br />

expensive right now. This is such a<br />

relief.”<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 />

Msgr. Terrance Fleming, center, and LA Auxiliary<br />

Bishop Matthew Elshoff, right, pose with the Crispino<br />

family after delivering gifts and other items as part of<br />

the Adopt-a-Family <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, program. <strong>2023</strong> • | VICTOR ANGELUS ALEMÁN • 15

A SISTER’S<br />

HEART<br />

For 89-year-old Sister Terrence Landini, seven<br />

decades of caring for the sick and dying have<br />

been a ‘dream come true.’<br />

Sister Terrence Landini sits inside the<br />

Centofante Family Chapel at Providence<br />

Little Company of Mary Medical Center<br />

in Torrance. | PROVIDENCE LCM<br />


In her 70 years with the Sisters of<br />

the Little Company of Mary, Sister<br />

Terrence Landini has focused<br />

largely on caring for the sick and the<br />

dying. But these days, she finds herself<br />

dispensing more wisdom.<br />

“Sister T,” as she is best known, is<br />

recognized for her ability to tee up<br />

advice, guidance, or a story for pretty<br />

much any situation. After more than 50<br />

years in various high-profile positions<br />

with the Providence Little Company<br />

of Mary Medical Center in Torrance,<br />

she’s grateful to have a special mission<br />

in the fast-moving health care field.<br />

“I was just talking to a new chaplain<br />

or a social worker recently and I told<br />

them it always comes back to this: Your<br />

work is sacred — our work is sacred,”<br />

said Landini, 89. “I tell them about just<br />

going to the chapel and asking God to<br />

bless you. I would ask God to help me<br />

be a positive influence to whomever<br />

he placed in my way that day. You<br />

become a better person experiencing<br />

all this.”<br />

Although she officially retired from<br />

the hospital more than 15 years ago,<br />

Landini dutifully carries out the<br />

charism of the Ven. Mary Potter, foundress<br />

of the Little Company of Mary<br />

Catholic ministry in 1877 in England.<br />

Since arriving at the Torrance medical<br />

center in 1966 — six years after it<br />

opened — Landini has been a supervising<br />

nurse, administrator, and director<br />

of human resources, plus sat on the<br />

Community Ministry and Foundation<br />

boards at the hospital. She has also<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

een superior of the Little Company<br />

of Mary Convent in Torrance and a<br />

provincial councilor.<br />

With COVID-19 protocols still in<br />

effect, she focuses as much on training<br />

the next generation as she does visiting<br />

with patient families as they wait<br />

anxiously in the waiting rooms. She advocates<br />

for more one-on-one care from<br />

doctors and nurses and remains on call<br />

for consultation with a sharp mind and<br />

a generous heart — a fitting description<br />

for someone who has specialized<br />

in cardiac care.<br />

That career began in the 1950s as<br />

a nurse and supervisor at a Little<br />

Company of Mary facility in Evergreen<br />

Park, Illinois. The facility was near her<br />

childhood home, where she grew up<br />

known as Jean Theresa Landini on the<br />

north side of Chicago to an Italian-Polish<br />

family.<br />

She said she felt a calling to religious<br />

life in fourth grade and entered the<br />

convent after high school. Her mother<br />

wanted her to be a nurse, but the family<br />

couldn’t afford to send her to school,<br />

so she nudged her daughter that way<br />

instead.<br />

In Catholic elementary school,<br />

Landini admired the Daughters of<br />

Charity for their dedication to the sick.<br />

In the eighth grade, she was drawn to<br />

the Little Company of Mary order dedicated<br />

to those suffering and dying. She<br />

saw those sisters working at a Chicago<br />

hospital in their white nursing gowns<br />

and pale blue veils.<br />

At age 18, she gravitated toward the<br />

Little Company of Mary order in 1952<br />

as a postulant. Less than a year later she<br />

had her habit and name given to her.<br />

“It’s a sacrifice that you’re willing to<br />

make because you feel that God has<br />

called you to a different way of life and<br />

that you may take care of more families<br />

and more children,” she said.<br />

Landini said it “hit me like a bolt”<br />

when she was transferred to Southern<br />

California in the mid-1960s, but “it<br />

only took about a year before I fell in<br />

love with the place.”<br />

Sister Terrence Landini holds<br />

a newborn baby — one of<br />

many miracles she’s seen<br />

during her 70 years with the<br />

Sisters of the Little Company<br />

of Mary. | PROVIDENCE LCM<br />

“It’s also a reminder: When God<br />

asks something great of you, and you<br />

generously say yes, it’s because he has<br />

something greater in mind,” she said.<br />

“My vows were about being available<br />

and serving where the need is greatest.<br />

As it turned out, my dream really came<br />

true here and the Lord blessed me. I<br />

believe this is where God wants me to<br />

be and what he wants me to do.”<br />

Long before Little Company of Mary<br />

merged with the Providence Sisters in<br />

1999, Landini’s presence in the facility<br />

could be seen in many places.<br />

A large oil painting of her was<br />

commissioned in 2008 and sits at the<br />

entrance to the hospital’s Centofante<br />

Family Chapel — the place where<br />

she recently had her platinum jubilee<br />

Mass celebrated at Landini’s home<br />

parish, St. Lawrence Martyr Church in<br />

Redondo Beach.<br />

In March, the Sister Terrence Landini<br />

Therapeutic Pool was unveiled and<br />

blessed in the Advanced Care Center.<br />

Landini admits she uses the facility<br />

twice a week.<br />

Dr. Anna Mellor, a concierge physician<br />

based in Rolling Hills Estates,<br />

started in the medical field some 30<br />

years ago. She considered the life of a<br />

sister in medicine early on and leans<br />

on Landini for showing her how to be<br />

“an amazing role model as a woman<br />

and as a woman of faith” for how she<br />

combined her vocation and love of<br />

health sciences.<br />

“She has always been so joyful in her<br />

interactions with people and has not<br />

let any of her physical limitations get<br />

in the way of visiting the sick,” said<br />

Mellor, a parishioner at American<br />

Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach.<br />

“Where her work ends and life begins<br />

are the same.”<br />

Looking to the future, Landini<br />

believes it’s “very important to prepare<br />

the people who will follow you.<br />

“Mary Potter once said we will be<br />

small in numbers at the start but those<br />

who join us will be part of the ‘Greater<br />

Company of Mary,’ and would carry on<br />

the legacy. We have to be sure we never<br />

lose our faith-based reasons for being<br />

here. Mary Potter would be proud of<br />

all we have accomplished.”<br />

Tom Hoffarth is an award-winning<br />

journalist based in Los Angeles.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 17

Justice served slowly<br />

A Vatican tribunal has convicted a once-powerful cardinal<br />

of financial crimes. But the drama is likely far from over.<br />


Cardinal Angelo Becciu walks<br />

outside the Vatican in January<br />

<strong>2023</strong>. | CNS/PAUL HARING<br />

ROME — In the long-awaited denouement of the Vatican’s<br />

“trial of the century,” a Vatican tribunal on Dec.<br />

16 sentenced Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu to five<br />

years and six months in prison for his role in various financial<br />

crimes.<br />

Becciu was also fined roughly $8,700 and permanently<br />

barred from holding any public office in the Vatican City<br />

State. An attorney representing Becciu immediately indicated<br />

plans for an appeal.<br />

Becciu, 75, was already the first cardinal to stand trial on<br />

criminal charges before a Vatican civil court, and he now<br />

becomes the first to be convicted and sentenced. Prosecutors<br />

had asked for seven years and three months of prison time for<br />

the cardinal.<br />

From 2011 to 2018, Becciu held the all-important position<br />

of “sostituto,” or “substitute,” in the Secretariat of State, making<br />

him effectively the pope’s chief of staff.<br />

Presiding judge Giuseppe Pignatone, a veteran Italian jurist,<br />

read the verdicts aloud Saturday in a hall belonging to the<br />

Vatican Museums, which was converted into a makeshift<br />

courtroom to accommodate not only public interest, but the<br />

sheer number of attorneys and support personnel necessary to<br />

try such a complex case.<br />

Stretching over 2 1/2 years, the trial featured 86 separate<br />

hearings and heard from almost 70 witnesses, after what<br />

amounted to almost a year of procedural squabbles before the<br />

court ever got to the substance of the charges.<br />

All 10 defendants denied any wrongdoing, and their attorneys<br />

requested full exoneration. The indictments were first<br />

handed down in July 2021.<br />

The case pivots on a controversial $400 million land deal in<br />

London, which began in 2014 when the Vatican’s Secretariat<br />

of State first acquired an interest in a former Harrods warehouse<br />

in the posh neighborhood of Chelsea. After various<br />

twists and turns, the Vatican eventually sold the property for<br />

$224 million, resulting in a net loss of around $150 million.<br />

The other defendants included two Italian financiers<br />

involved in the deal, a former aide to Becciu, two former officials<br />

of the Vatican’s anti-money laundering watchdog, three<br />

former officials or advisers to the Secretariat of State, a lawyer<br />

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

epresenting one of the financiers, and a woman tapped by<br />

Becciu to help with the liberation of a nun kidnapped by<br />

Islamic militants, who allegedly used some of the ransom<br />

money to buy luxury goods for herself.<br />

The two financiers, Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione,<br />

received sentences of six and five years respectively, while<br />

former Vatican official Fabrizio Tirabassi was sentenced to<br />

seven years while Enrico Crasso, a financial adviser to the<br />

Secretariat of State, also received a seven-year sentence.<br />

Beyond the London affair, Becciu also faced charges on two<br />

other fronts: the transfer of roughly $240,000 to a Catholic<br />

charity in Sardinia run by his brother, and payouts of around<br />

$600,000 for the liberation of a kidnapped religious sister<br />

in Mali. According to a Vatican summary of the verdicts.<br />

Becciu was found guilty of embezzlement for his role in the<br />

London affair, and on the charges related to Sardinia and the<br />

kidnapped nun.<br />

Cecilia Marogna, a self-described security consultant who<br />

allegedly spent part of the money for the kidnapped nun on<br />

luxury goods for herself, was sentenced to three years.<br />

Two former officials of the Vatican’s anti-money laundering<br />

watchdog unit, known at the time as the Financial Information<br />

Authority, Swiss lawyer René Brülhart and Italian<br />

financial analyst Tomasso Di Ruzza, were acquitted on the<br />

more serious charge of abuse of office but convicted for failing<br />

to report the London transaction as suspicious. The only<br />

defendant completely exonerated was Italian Msgr. Mauro<br />

Carlino, a former aide to Becciu.<br />

Numbers help express the staggering complexity of the trial:<br />

Some 600 hours in total of hearings, 69 witnesses, 124,563<br />

pages of documents generated and 2,479,062 separate files<br />

presented by the prosecution, in addition to 20,150 pages of<br />

documents from the defense and 48,731 from the civil parties<br />

to the case.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w that<br />

verdicts are in,<br />

attention may<br />

shift to the larger<br />

significance of<br />

the trial. Some<br />

observers believe<br />

that by injecting<br />

himself personally<br />

into the case,<br />

including issuing<br />

four controversial<br />

decrees at the<br />

beginning of the<br />

process which<br />

granted prosecutors<br />

broad powers<br />

without judicial<br />

review, Pope Francis effectively revived a sweeping conception<br />

of the pope’s authority as a temporal sovereign that most<br />

Catholics believed had been abandoned in the 19th century.<br />

There are also signs the aftermath may take even longer to<br />

play out than the trial itself.<br />

For starters, there’s the appeals process, which Becciu’s<br />

legal team intends to pursue. Presumably, whatever appeal<br />

Becciu and the others may lodge will be heard by the Court<br />

of Appeals for the Vatican City State, which is made up of<br />

six judges, three clerics, and three laity. If the tribunal and<br />

the appeals court reach different conclusions, then it’s also<br />

possible that the Vatican City State’s “supreme court,” known<br />

as the Court of Cassation, could be asked to adjudicate the<br />

conflict.<br />

There’s also the question of making the verdicts stick, for<br />

which the Vatican may need international help.<br />

In addition to the jail terms handed down Dec. 16, the<br />

tribunal also ordered the confiscation of around $180 million<br />

in assets and the payment of roughly $220 million in damages.<br />

If it actually wants to see any of that money, presumably<br />

the Vatican would need to request that its verdicts be recognized<br />

by other states where the funds are actually deposited,<br />

such as Switzerland and the U.K.<br />

If the Vatican seeks recognition of its sentences in foreign<br />

courts, that means different judges will have to review the<br />

same evidence, possibly reaching different conclusions.<br />

There’s also the question of whether, once all the appeals<br />

have run out, anyone will really go to jail: Pope Benedict<br />

XVI and Francis both granted clemency to Vatican officials<br />

convicted in both “Vatileaks” scandals.<br />

Finally, it seems abundantly clear that when it comes to the<br />

Vatican’s rulings, the jury is still out in the broader court of<br />

public opinion.<br />

From the beginning, critics have asserted that the trial was<br />

fatally flawed, not merely because some found the evidence<br />

unconvincing, but because there’s no separation of powers<br />

between the executive and the judiciary in the Vatican<br />

system, and Francis repeatedly used his authority in ways that<br />

critics say stacked the deck in favor of the prosecution.<br />

Luis Badilla, a veteran Rome-based journalist who operates<br />

the widely read<br />

blog “Il Sismografo,”<br />

wrote that<br />

“the conviction<br />

of Becciu is not<br />

the real, central<br />

question,” in an<br />

editorial on the<br />

decision.<br />

“The problem<br />

is a tribunal<br />

subjugated to the<br />

Judges of the Vatican City State court<br />

read their verdict in the trial of several<br />

Vatican officials on charges of financial<br />

malfeasance Dec. 16. | VATICAN MEDIA<br />

sovereign,” he<br />

said.<br />

This debate over<br />

the legitimacy of<br />

the Vatican’s civil<br />

justice system<br />

almost certainly<br />

will continue, especially given that Francis appears committed<br />

to what’s been dubbed the “Vaticanization” of the Holy<br />

See, meaning making the Church’s universal government,<br />

and its personnel, subject to the laws and judgments of the<br />

Vatican City State.<br />

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

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 19

Bishop Raimo Goyarolla<br />

exits St. Henry Cathedral<br />

in Helsinki after<br />

celebrating his first Mass<br />

as a bishop <strong>No</strong>v. <strong>26</strong>. |<br />


A shepherd at the<br />

end of the world<br />

Finland’s new bishop is a 54-year-old<br />

missionary with big dreams for one of the<br />

world’s poorest, smallest dioceses.<br />


On the border with Russia near<br />

the Arctic Circle, Finland is<br />

a country known for its chilly<br />

temperatures, efficient education and<br />

health care systems, and high quality<br />

of life, having been ranked the world’s<br />

happiest country by a United Nations<br />

survey this year.<br />

It is also home to one of the world’s<br />

smallest, most scattered Catholic populations,<br />

with only eight parishes and<br />

about 30 priests to minister to some<br />

17-18,000 Catholics. And until this<br />

fall, its only diocese — the Diocese of<br />

Helsinki — had been without a bishop<br />

since 2019.<br />

The wait ended on Sept. <strong>29</strong>, when<br />

Pope Francis named 54-year-old<br />

Spaniard Father Raimo Goyarrola<br />

Belda, a priest of Opus Dei and former<br />

physician who was sent to Finland 17<br />

years ago as a missionary. Last <strong>No</strong>vember,<br />

he was ordained a bishop in<br />

a Lutheran church in Helsinki (since<br />

no Catholic church could fit all the<br />

guests).<br />

What’s it like being a Catholic in one<br />

of the world’s richest countries, but<br />

poorest dioceses? The following is a<br />

translated version of our conversation,<br />

edited for brevity.<br />

Bishop, can you describe what the<br />

Church in Finland looks like?<br />

Finland is similar to Italy in land<br />

area, but only has a population of 5<br />

1/2 million. So the distances are huge.<br />

But thanks to ecumenism, here in<br />

Finland there’s a lot of love among us<br />

Christians, especially the Lutheran<br />

and Orthodox churches, which let us<br />

use their churches to celebrate holy<br />

Mass. That allows us to offer Mass in<br />

non-Catholic, Christian churches at<br />

least once a month in 25 cities where<br />

there’s no Catholic parish.<br />

It’s a very small church, but a church<br />

that’s very alive, with lots of children<br />

and baptisms. It grows. Many migrants<br />

and refugees have been arriving here<br />

over the years, from places like Poland<br />

and Vietnam. From Latin America,<br />

many have come from Cuba, Argenti-<br />

20 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

na, and Chile. <strong>No</strong>w more are coming<br />

from Nicaragua and Venezuela.<br />

There’s also a wave of migration from<br />

Africa, from countries where there’s a<br />

lot of violence, especially Nigeria and<br />

Cameroon.<br />

We’re a church with a lot of “local”<br />

baptisms but also those of migrants<br />

and refugees. And we’re growing a lot.<br />

We’re a very poor church. The government<br />

doesn’t help us. The support<br />

comes from [Mass] collections, and<br />

our collections are very small because<br />

the people don’t have money.<br />

Then we need to keep the heat on<br />

pretty much year-round, and that’s<br />

very expensive. Yes, Finland is a rich,<br />

developed country, but prices are very<br />

high here.<br />

I’m convinced that we’re the poorest<br />

church in Europe, and perhaps one of<br />

the poorest in the world. This diocese<br />

is also very young. We’re growing and<br />

I’m working toward having an actual<br />

diocesan infrastructure, including a<br />

chancery building, which we don’t<br />

have! I dream of a diocesan retreat<br />

house, of a property to have youth<br />

camps. I dream of having a Catholic<br />

school, which we don’t have. I dream<br />

of a home for the elderly, one that also<br />

offers palliative care. I have a long list<br />

of dreams!<br />

There’s also the war with Ukraine<br />

Then-Father Goyarolla performs an<br />

adult baptism at St. Henry Cathedral<br />

in Helsinki. | COURTESY PHOTO<br />

close by. Sharing a border with Russia,<br />

the electricity rates have risen a lot.<br />

Being poor has its benefits, but the<br />

truth is that sometimes we’re pushed to<br />

the edge.<br />

What do you mean when you say<br />

being poor, in the sense of a ‘poor<br />

church,’ has its benefits in a country<br />

like Finland?<br />

The advantage of being a poor<br />

church is that you have to focus on<br />

God. Because sometimes when we<br />

have means, when we have money,<br />

when we build … we have the temptation<br />

of thinking that it’s we that do<br />

things.<br />

You think it was you that built this<br />

school? That built this parish? In our<br />

“wish list” we need more parishes,<br />

because we’re currently using 25<br />

non-Catholic, Christian churches for<br />

services, but in the future we’ll need<br />

25 new Catholic church buildings.<br />

When you don’t have money, you trust<br />

more in God, of course!<br />

When I went to Germany once, I was<br />

told, “Look, we have a lot of money<br />

here, but perhaps little faith. You in<br />

Finland have little money, but a lot of<br />

faith. You guys have a future!”<br />

Poverty helps you not to get attached<br />

to many things. When you have a lot<br />

of money, you look for more money.<br />

When you have little money, you realize<br />

what’s actually necessary. You don’t<br />

fill yourself with superfluous things.<br />

That helps me.<br />

How is a Catholic supposed to evangelize<br />

in a secularized country like<br />

Finland?<br />

As Pope Francis says, it’s the witness<br />

of each person, wherever one may<br />

be. Evangelization begins with one’s<br />

own self, giving Jesus space: one’s<br />

own conversion and prayer life, their<br />

sacramental life.<br />

How do we bring Jesus to others once<br />

he’s in us? First, be careful and be<br />

a good Christian. The Gospel starts<br />

wherever you are: with your husband,<br />

your wife, your kids, your grandmother,<br />

your parents, whoever’s in that first<br />

circle.<br />

Then, living as good Christians with<br />

your neighbors, your sports buddies<br />

or teammates on the soccer team at<br />

school, or at work: Sometimes, the<br />

witness you give is as simple as making<br />

the sign of the cross before eating<br />

lunch.<br />

We’ve already gotten through the<br />

COVID pandemic, but there are<br />

other viruses here around wintertime.<br />

Well, there’s also a virus called the<br />

New Evangelization. It’s a contagious<br />

virus that produces positive effects,<br />

like joy and peace. It’s a divine virus.<br />

And we are the “carriers” of that peace<br />

and have to “infect” with kindness,<br />

friendship, consolation, with the word<br />

we give to the person next to us.<br />

I think of the first Christians: There<br />

was no internet or cellphones back<br />

then, nor big projects or structures.<br />

How did the early Church grow in a<br />

pagan world? The families, the laity,<br />

that one priest who went around … all<br />

this was the Church!<br />

How did you end up in Finland?<br />

I got here 17 years ago. In 2005, there<br />

was a 50th anniversary celebration for<br />

the Diocese of Helsinki. The bishop<br />

invited bishops from around the world,<br />

including the prelate of Opus Dei.<br />

He asked him to please send him a<br />

priest, and [the prelate] answered that<br />

he didn’t have extra priests! But the<br />

bishop insisted, they thought of me<br />

and I said yes.<br />

I am in love with Finland. I’m Finn-<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

ish already, it’s in my heart, my head,<br />

and my passport. This is my country<br />

and I want to live and die here.<br />

What made you fall in love with such<br />

a cold country, where the Church is<br />

so materially poor?<br />

I arrived on a sunny day, it was 73<br />

degrees. Everything was green, the sea<br />

looked beautiful. That helped me.<br />

Then I met the Finns, and I made<br />

many friends<br />

quickly. I felt welcomed,<br />

I loved<br />

the language<br />

and I started<br />

learning it. Finns<br />

are honorable,<br />

hard-working,<br />

and simple<br />

people.<br />

There were<br />

Bishop Goyarrola with<br />

high-schoolers at a summer<br />

camp. He has served<br />

as a school chaplain and<br />

teacher during his time<br />

in Finland. | COURTESY<br />

PHOTO<br />

about 7-8,000 Catholics when I got<br />

here, now we’re about 17-18,000. I fell<br />

in love with the possibility of building<br />

up the Church here, in a big country<br />

at the end of the world: in Spanish,<br />

“Fin-landia” basically means “the end<br />

of the world,” and I saw myself like the<br />

first Christians who traveled very far,<br />

“to the ends of the world.”<br />

And I did fall in love with the circumstances.<br />

It’s true that in my case, when<br />

God calls you, God also helps you.<br />

I see how God has given me many<br />

graces to live in this country and love<br />

it with all my heart.<br />

Starting this new year 2024, what do<br />

you see ahead as the future of the<br />

church in Finland?<br />

I see a young church, dynamic, growing,<br />

and missionary, that’s responsible<br />

for bringing the Word of God to all of<br />

Finland.<br />

That means bringing Jesus in the sacrament,<br />

too. I dream of having Masses<br />

all over the country where people<br />

can be fed by the body of Christ. At<br />

the end of the day, it’s about bringing<br />

Jesus to the whole world, so that in any<br />

corner of this country where there’s<br />

a Catholic, the Word of God and the<br />

Eucharist may be offered. That’s my<br />

dream as a shepherd.<br />

I was with Pope Francis a few weeks<br />

ago before my episcopal ordination.<br />

He often says that he likes shepherds<br />

who smell like their sheep. I told him<br />

that in my case, there’s no sheep here,<br />

but there are reindeer. I told him I<br />

want to be a shepherd who smells like<br />

reindeer, and he laughed quite a bit.<br />

That’s my mission: to bring Jesus to<br />

Catholics so they can have Jesus, so<br />

they can bring Jesus to others. The<br />

Church is an unbreakable chain!<br />

What can the universal Church learn<br />

from the experience of the Church in<br />

Finland?<br />

First of all, I’d say the responsibility<br />

of each Catholic. In many schools<br />

here, there are kids who are the only<br />

Catholic students in the school. It’s the<br />

same for many who work.<br />

It’s an adventure, something positive,<br />

because if I’m the only Catholic here,<br />

I have that personal responsibility<br />

to announce the Gospel. The other<br />

option is to be camouflaged, “low<br />

profile,” so that no one finds out you’re<br />

Catholic. <strong>No</strong>! If you’re Catholic here,<br />

you’re the only one, and what you<br />

don’t do, no one else will do, either.<br />

The second thing that Finland offers<br />

is ecumenism. Here there’s a trust, a<br />

friendship, a love among Christians<br />

and we want to evangelize together.<br />

We want to become one so that the<br />

world may believe, as Jesus says in the<br />

Last Supper (John 17:21).<br />

In such a secularized society, it’s<br />

necessary that we be one. That’s why<br />

I believe ecumenism is the key to the<br />

future of humanity. Perhaps America is<br />

not moving as quickly away from God,<br />

but here in Europe, the Christian<br />

spirit is dying — and at an incredible<br />

pace.<br />

St. Pope John Paul II said that the<br />

third millennium would either be<br />

Christian or not Christian. He was a<br />

prophet in a lot of things, and I truly<br />

believe that in this third millennium<br />

we Christians all have a marvelous<br />

mission to bring Jesus to the world. Because<br />

if not, this world is going to end.<br />

Although the dynamic is quite<br />

different, it’s interesting that the<br />

Diocese of Helsinki has something in<br />

common with the Archdiocese of LA:<br />

they’re both churches of immigrants.<br />

What role do Catholic immigrants<br />

have in Finland?<br />

That’s an important and difficult<br />

question. There are now more than<br />

100 different nationalities represented<br />

in Finland. For the Catholic Church,<br />

I think diversity of culture and<br />

language is a richness because we’re<br />

the “Catholic” (meaning “universal”)<br />

Church.<br />

We’re called to all peoples, all<br />

22 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

cultures, all languages. So the key is:<br />

What’s authentic Catholicism look<br />

like in this sea of diversity? I think that<br />

what unites is Catholic, what separates<br />

isn’t Catholic. If an activity, or a<br />

thought, or something we do is going<br />

to unite peoples of other races, languages,<br />

and cultures, that’s Catholic. If<br />

it’s Catholic, it lasts.<br />

First, one who comes from outside<br />

contributes their own culture. They<br />

also contribute a different vision of life.<br />

For example, African culture cherishes<br />

family, life, and that breathes air into<br />

European culture, where individualism<br />

is king: Me, me, and then me.<br />

That leaves no room for the family!<br />

I think other cultures can enrich Finland’s<br />

culture. It’s true that Finnish is<br />

very difficult. In fact, many immigrant<br />

refugees prefer Germany or Sweden<br />

because the Finnish language is so<br />

complicated, and that’s an obstacle for<br />

older people. So what happens? Older<br />

people arrive with their children, and<br />

the children who learn Finnish end<br />

up integrating. They become Finns.<br />

I think Catholics in general integrate<br />

well in society, at work, with friends,<br />

in school. So that second generation is<br />

already Finnish.<br />

So the challenge is that first generation<br />

that arrives. And when they arrive,<br />

many are fleeing wars, persecution …<br />

so it’s a beautiful social work.<br />

Pablo Kay is the editor-in-chief of<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong>.<br />

Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden,<br />

imposes hands on Father Goyarrola during his <strong>No</strong>v.<br />

25 Ordination Mass in St. John’s Church, a Lutheran<br />

church in Helsinki. | PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 23


“The Nativity,” by Lorenzo Monaco, 1370–1425,<br />


What does it<br />

actually mean to<br />

make room for Jesus<br />

in the ‘manger’ of<br />

our heart?<br />



The Blessed Virgin Mary gave<br />

birth to her Son “and laid him<br />

in a manger because there was<br />

no room for them” (Luke 2:7). How<br />

many emotions surge up in us when<br />

we read that verse? It may even trigger<br />

feelings of misery, anguish, and rejection<br />

that have hampered our own life.<br />

Horrible words<br />

A harrowing scene in the film<br />

“Schindler’s List” depicts a Jewish<br />

woman desperately dodging capture<br />

by the Nazis on Kristallnacht. She<br />

races to the ingenious hiding place<br />

of a prescient friend. But once there,<br />

the friend, now hysterical with fear,<br />

bars her from entering, sputtering the<br />

horrible words, “There is not enough<br />

room for you.” Then the hatch slams<br />

shut, leaving the hunted woman<br />

stranded in her peril.<br />

Acknowledging a Presence<br />

Fear makes us shut out people. And<br />

yet, what we ourselves dread more<br />

than anything else in life is being left<br />

utterly alone and abandoned — the<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

punishment of solitary confinement.<br />

We crave a Presence in our life that<br />

can free us and embrace us. It is faith<br />

that enables us to respond to that<br />

need, for the essence of faith, according<br />

to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is<br />

something that “meets me which is<br />

greater than anything we can think of<br />

for ourselves.” Faith is acknowledging<br />

a Presence that changes us.<br />

A manger is the poorest of beds.<br />

Making room for Jesus in the manger<br />

of our heart begins by confronting the<br />

reality of our own poverty. “There’s<br />

something worse than being needy:<br />

it’s being alone with our self-sufficiency.<br />

Our needy heart is the principal<br />

instrument that has been given to<br />

us to recognize Jesus” (Father Julián<br />

Carrón).<br />

It’s our neediness, our poverty, even<br />

our panic that ultimately moves us to<br />

welcome Christ in … to surrender to<br />

this Presence that knocks at our door.<br />

“When I awake, nothing interests me<br />

but my desire for God’s Presence —<br />

this is poverty” (Servant of God Luigi<br />

Giussani).<br />

A heroic Protestant pastor, Martin<br />

Niemöller, preached stunning<br />

sermons while imprisoned in the<br />

Dachau concentration camp. He says<br />

in a Christmas sermon:<br />

“God, the eternally almighty God,<br />

enters into the most extreme human<br />

poverty imaginable. <strong>No</strong> person is so<br />

weak and helpless that God does not<br />

come to them in Jesus Christ, right<br />

in the midst of our human need; and<br />

no person is so forsaken and homeless<br />

in this world that God does not<br />

seek them in the midst of our human<br />

distress.”<br />

Go and make room<br />

It is the experience of our forsakenness<br />

and distress that convinces us<br />

of the lavishness of God’s mercy in<br />

singling us out. A heart transformed<br />

by the Presence of Jesus remains on<br />

the lookout for him in the suffering<br />

of others, ready to make room for him.<br />

After my mother died in 2016, I<br />

discovered among her personal effects<br />

a newspaper clipping from the 1970s<br />

she had saved from our local paper.<br />

The title: “Life Tied To Mechanical<br />

Kidneys.” It’s about two hemodialysis<br />

patients who participated in the<br />

mechanical process of having their<br />

blood cleansed at the town’s hospital<br />

three times a week. The first patient<br />

mentioned was my father, who battled<br />

kidney disease for 10 years before he<br />

died at age 49 on Christmas Eve.<br />

I didn’t know such a newspaper<br />

story even existed. It includes quotes<br />

from my father; one mentions how he<br />

would use his free time “organizing<br />

the unit’s patient self-help group.”<br />

That would be just like him.<br />

To make room for Jesus in the<br />

manger of our heart means refusing to<br />

be ruled by rejection. Some months<br />

after my father died, my brother Tim<br />

told me an astonishing story about<br />

my father. Apparently on the hemodialysis<br />

unit worked a disagreeable<br />

orderly, deeply unhappy with life,<br />

who took out his displeasure on the<br />

people around him. He was surly and<br />

rude, going out of his way to make the<br />

patients’ already miserable lives even<br />

more so.<br />

As Christmas approached, my father<br />

asked my brother Tim to take a ride<br />

with him. On the front seat of the car<br />

was a Christmas present with a gift<br />

tag bearing a name my brother didn’t<br />

recognize. It was this orderly’s. My<br />

father had found out where the young<br />

man lived, and had decided to personally<br />

deliver a gift to him. I don’t know<br />

what that Christmas present was, but<br />

this is what it meant: <strong>No</strong> matter how<br />

you may treat me, I want you in my<br />

life. And I want the love of the One<br />

who has come into my life to change<br />

your life as well. I want to give you his<br />

love. There is enough room for you<br />

here.”<br />

We want to make room for Jesus in<br />

the manger of our heart, not just at<br />

Christmas, but all throughout the<br />

liturgical year. The night before he<br />

dies, Jesus directs his disciples to<br />

prepare the Passover supper for them<br />

all: a “man will show you an upstairs<br />

room. It is there you are to prepare”<br />

(Luke 22:12). A manger is a place for<br />

animals to feed; the Upper Room is<br />

the place of the Last Supper. This preparing<br />

of the Eucharist room symbolizes<br />

the whole work of our Christian<br />

life: to make ourselves ready to receive<br />

Jesus Christ. We say with the French<br />

poet Patrice de La Tour du Pin:<br />

Come back to me:<br />

in my heart there is room for two…<br />

Who speaks this, me or my God?<br />

May it be my voice answering his!<br />

Father Peter John Cameron, OP,<br />

holds the Carl J. Peter Chair of Homiletics<br />

at the Pontifical <strong>No</strong>rth American<br />

College in Rome, and is the author of<br />

“Mysteries of the Virgin Mary” (Cluny,<br />

$18.95).<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 25



Who really wants peace?<br />

It seems a bitter irony that during<br />

this season of angelic proclamations<br />

of “peace on earth and goodwill<br />

to men,” we seem so terribly far<br />

from that sentiment. War and rumors<br />

of war fill the air, and there are no<br />

good stories and no happy endings in<br />

sight.<br />

Ukraine is about to complete the<br />

second year of its desperate resistance<br />

to the Russian invasion. <strong>No</strong>t only is it<br />

locked in a bloody stalemate with a<br />

remorseless and cruel opponent, but it<br />

must also worry if its allies are growing<br />

weary of the fight. One marvels at how<br />

soon America forgets what happens<br />

when one seeks to appease and excuse<br />

A girl lights a candle as people<br />

gather for a vigil in Tel Aviv, Israel,<br />

<strong>No</strong>v. 7, to mark the one-month<br />

anniversary of the deadly attack by<br />

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas<br />

on Israel. | OSV NEWS/EVELYN<br />


dictators bent on conquest. But then,<br />

history has never been our strong suit.<br />

The bloody war in Eastern Europe<br />

has resulted in hundreds of thousands<br />

of casualties. Many thousands<br />

of children have been kidnapped by<br />

Russian troops. Civilians and civilian<br />

infrastructure have been targeted for<br />

bombardment and cities obliterated.<br />

Thousands of cases of war crimes<br />

allegedly committed by Russian troops<br />

are being documented. The Ukrainian<br />

Greek Catholic Church is now<br />

being banned in the region held by<br />

Russia, as are the Knights of Columbus<br />

and the Catholic aid organization<br />

Caritas, a foretaste of what the future<br />

will look like for Ukraine’s Catholics<br />

should Russia triumph.<br />

Yet U.S. politicians procrastinate<br />

on providing further aid for Ukraine,<br />

while the West is distracted by the horrors<br />

of October 7 and its aftermath.<br />

The slaughter of Israeli citizens that<br />

dark day reveals an evil intentionally<br />

unleashed upon the land. The assault<br />

by Hamas seems horrifyingly personal<br />

in its cruelty, slaughtering parents<br />

before their children’s eyes and<br />

raping women. The attackers carried<br />

phrase books that told them how to<br />

pronounce phrases like “take off your<br />

pants” in Hebrew.<br />

Yet the Israeli counterattack on<br />

Gaza and the skyrocketing numbers<br />

of civilian dead have muted international<br />

support for Israel as they exact<br />

a brutal revenge on the cities hiding<br />

Hamas’ soldiers. The reprisal seems<br />

as impersonal in its administration as<br />

the Oct. 7 attack was personal. Whole<br />

neighborhoods have been leveled<br />

like wheat before a thresher. Multiple<br />

generations of entire families wiped<br />

out from thousands of feet above.<br />

“They say that we are living in the<br />

Holy Land but instead it feels like we<br />

are living in the land of hatred and<br />

violence,” a butcher in Ramallah told<br />

The New York Times.<br />

In both conflicts, Pope Francis has<br />

called for peace and sought to remind<br />

the world of the innocent lives at<br />

stake. “Let us think about and pray for<br />

populations suffering from war,” he<br />

said at one audience. “Do not forget<br />

the tormented Ukraine and think of<br />

the Palestinian and Israeli people.<br />

May the Lord bring about a just<br />

peace.”<br />

Then he added: “They are suffering<br />

so much,” he said. “Children are<br />

suffering. The sick are suffering. The<br />

<strong>26</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Greg Erlandson is the former president and<br />

editor-in-chief of Catholic <strong>News</strong> Service.<br />

elderly suffer. And many young people<br />

are dying. War is always a defeat.”<br />

War is always a defeat. Cardinal<br />

Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin<br />

patriarch of Jerusalem, bemoans the<br />

consequences of this truth.<br />

In speaking about the Israeli-Hamas<br />

conflict, the cardinal said, “The war<br />

will end sooner or later, but the consequences<br />

of this war will be terrible.<br />

You see, there are two issues that seem<br />

particularly worrisome to me. The<br />

first is that both sides seem to lack a<br />

strategic vision that goes beyond the<br />

annihilation of the other. … There is<br />

no exit strategy.”<br />

The second issue, he said, is the<br />

difficulty Israelis and Palestinians<br />

have of “distancing themselves, even<br />

emotionally, from the heavy past of<br />

both peoples, the Holocaust and the<br />

‘Nakba,’ which was evoked on Oct. 7,”<br />

when Hamas militants entered Israel<br />

and went on their killing and kidnapping<br />

rampage. “Nakba” refers to the<br />

mass displacement of Palestinians<br />

during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.<br />

The same holds true in Eastern<br />

Europe. Russia is hypnotized by the<br />

dream of restoring a lost empire,<br />

looking not just to Ukraine but also<br />

the Baltic States and more. Ukraine<br />

cannot forget its past, the 1932-33<br />

genocide known as the “Holodomor,”<br />

when millions of Ukrainians were<br />

starved to death by Stalin’s regime.<br />

Like an unstaunched artery, the past<br />

bleeds out on the shattered battlefields<br />

of Eastern Ukraine.<br />

How does one make peace when no<br />

one wants peace right now? We are<br />

imprisoned by the crimes of history,<br />

and with each turn of history’s grim<br />

wheel, humanity relives its horrors<br />

again.<br />

A famous icon sets the Nativity in<br />

a cave beneath Golgotha’s hill. The<br />

Child’s shelter becomes the Man’s<br />

tomb. This Christmas, the innocent<br />

joy in the baby Jesus’ birth is necessarily<br />

set against the horror of Good<br />

Friday. For so many of us, we are left<br />

only with prayer and the desperate<br />

trust that death has been defeated.<br />

The Savior has triumphed. Yet how<br />

long must we wait for the promise of<br />

peace on earth to be fulfilled?<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 27



A legendary Japanese animator’s farewell film<br />

ponders our need to leave behind a legacy.<br />

Promotional image for “The Boy and<br />

the Heron.” | ROTTEN TOMATOES/<br />



The worst part of making art is<br />

being an artist. It’s a thankless<br />

position in life and often only<br />

remunerative after death. Those<br />

lucky exceptions to the rule are then<br />

rewarded with a whole other fresh hell<br />

to accomplish: the final statement. An<br />

artist’s last piece is humbly expected<br />

not only to encapsulate their entire<br />

body of work, but also mine some<br />

eternal truth from the rubble of the<br />

human condition. If they find the<br />

time.<br />

One last problem to the pile is that<br />

lifespans are expanding at an alarming<br />

rate. Back in the good old days, an<br />

artist would cough into a handkerchief,<br />

see blood, and know he had to wrap<br />

things up by age 23. The curse of<br />

statins means we just keep on trucking,<br />

so a director over 80 might have as<br />

many as four final films left in him.<br />

We’ve seen this with Scorsese and<br />

Eastwood, as we wave tearful goodbyes<br />

to each only to find we are all parked<br />

the same block over.<br />

Legendary Japanese animator and<br />

filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki already<br />

had his swan song with the elegiac<br />

“The Wind Rises” in 2013. A decade<br />

later, he has replaced that swan with a<br />

different bird entirely.<br />

“The Boy and the Heron,” released<br />

in theaters Dec. 8, is a fitting salute<br />

to Miyazaki’s career, something of a<br />

jukebox musical of all his greatest hits.<br />

All the stars are here: dead parents,<br />

scrumptious food, moss-strewn ruins,<br />

even bulbous little spirits waddling<br />

about. There’s nothing you haven’t<br />

seen before, but when you accompany<br />

a man through the summation of his<br />

successes and regrets, that goes with<br />

the territory.<br />

The film is set in Miyazaki’s own<br />

boyhood, Japan in the thick of World<br />

War II. (“Heron” and “Godzilla Minus<br />

Zero,” the top two movies at the box<br />

office the week of its premiere, each<br />

present the war from a Japanese<br />

perspective — perhaps their own small<br />

revenge for the success of “Oppenheimer”<br />

this year.) Twelve-year-old<br />

Mahito has recently lost his mother in<br />

a fire and is further unmoored when<br />

his father moves them from Tokyo to<br />

his mother’s sister’s countryside estate.<br />

That he is also marrying her doesn’t<br />

help.<br />

His aunt is no wicked stepmother, she<br />

genuinely loves her nephew and wants<br />

to honor her sister’s memory in raising<br />

him. But it’s this closeness, in role and<br />

even looks, that drives Mahito away.<br />

He’s too young to see her as anything<br />

but a copy of his mother, and frankly<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

he’d prefer the real deal. He seems to<br />

treat all women as varying degrees off<br />

from his idealized mother, holding the<br />

aunt and the household old women<br />

with polite scorn.<br />

So when a magical heron starts<br />

swooping about, telling him his real<br />

mother is still alive and that he just<br />

needs to follow him to that totally innocent<br />

creepy tower off in<br />

the garden, Mahito is<br />

suspicious but reluctant<br />

to resist. The heron<br />

kidnapping his aunt<br />

forces him to pursue,<br />

but she seems more<br />

like an excuse than the<br />

quest itself.<br />

Miyazaki has always<br />

been preoccupied with<br />

liminality, the blurred<br />

boundary between<br />

separate worlds. His<br />

heroes are always children<br />

on the threshold<br />

of adulthood and his<br />

settings the pockets of<br />

overlap between the<br />

wilds and civilization,<br />

the supernatural, and<br />

the mundane. Mahito’s<br />

father runs a munitions<br />

factory, but his men<br />

are still forced to lug<br />

the machines by hand<br />

up the cracked stone<br />

steps of the house. Here<br />

the gateway is a tower<br />

carved from a meteorite,<br />

which struck the land<br />

just before the Meiji<br />

Restoration, when Japan<br />

opened its borders<br />

after centuries of isolation. The family<br />

and the country may have modernized,<br />

but the tower lurks enigmatically in the<br />

corner of the garden, posing questions<br />

and despising answers.<br />

Mahito follows the heron into an<br />

alternate world of murderous birds,<br />

the heron himself the least of his<br />

worries. Here Miyazaki reminds us that<br />

dinosaurs never really went away, they<br />

just grew too small and adorable to eat<br />

us as they still desire. In the parlance of<br />

The Beatles there is a different sort of<br />

violent bird here, represented by several<br />

awesome women who accomplish<br />

most of Mahito’s quest for him. One<br />

of these is Mahito’s mother, who years<br />

ago entered the tower herself. Time<br />

moves differently in this world, so<br />

Mahito knows soon she must inevitably<br />

leave to birth him and die in flames.<br />

The world through the looking glass<br />

isn’t the afterlife (as in Miyazaki’s most<br />

famous work “Spirited Away” in 2001),<br />

but the dreamscape of a mere mortal.<br />

Mahito’s top-hatted great-great uncle<br />

walked through the tower years ago<br />

and now rules the world like the Wizard<br />

of Oz, only this time with powers.<br />

Oz is perhaps the perfect analogy, for if<br />

Oz was just CTE nightmares of a concussed<br />

Dorothy, the dream world here<br />

is the exposed ID of Miyazaki himself.<br />

Hence the familiar sights aren’t mere<br />

references or recyclings, but a man<br />

poking and prodding about his own<br />

psyche.<br />

Like Miyazaki, the wizard is nearing<br />

his end and looking for his successor.<br />

Succession has been the prevalent<br />

theme of the 2010s,<br />

even the name of one of<br />

its more popular shows.<br />

The media merely<br />

reflects our own world,<br />

run by a puttering<br />

gerontocracy unwilling<br />

to trust the generation it<br />

raised to take the reins.<br />

Those shows tend to<br />

agree, the likes of Logan<br />

Roy and Eli Gemstone<br />

finding no one up to<br />

the task of holding their<br />

kingdoms together.<br />

Where Miyazaki differs<br />

is his ambivalence<br />

to his own legacy. His<br />

fantasies have comforted<br />

audiences on both<br />

sides of the Pacific, but<br />

he recognizes that fantasy,<br />

and indeed comfort,<br />

are as much escape as<br />

balms.<br />

When offered the keys<br />

to his kingdom, both<br />

Mahito and his mother<br />

choose instead to return<br />

to their world, despite<br />

the pain and even death<br />

that awaits them. The<br />

film’s Japanese title is<br />

“How Do You Live?,” a<br />

question pondered by philosophers and<br />

LeAnn Rimes throughout history. It is<br />

perhaps the only question, the tower’s<br />

primary riddle with no answer.<br />

But if this is Miyazaki’s parting message<br />

in the face of death, he takes the<br />

best guess I’ve heard yet. How do you<br />

live? By living.<br />

Hayao Miyazaki in 2012. |<br />


Joseph Joyce is a screenwriter and freelance<br />

critic based in Sherman Oaks.<br />

<strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>29</strong>



Write your own obituary<br />


Recently I read a book called<br />

“God of Surprises” (Wm. B.<br />

Eerdmans Publishing Co,<br />

$22.99), in which author Gerard W.<br />

Hughes suggests, as a spiritual exercise,<br />

writing your own obituary.<br />

In a 2022 column, Father Ron<br />

Rolheiser makes a similar suggestion,<br />

pointing out, “There comes a time<br />

in life when it’s time to stop writing<br />

your résumé and begin to write your<br />

obituary.”<br />

I’m always at my best in the early<br />

morning after a lengthy time alone<br />

with Jesus and two cups of strong<br />

coffee, which, happily, was the state<br />

in which I came upon the passage in<br />

“God of Surprises.”<br />

So I seized my pen and notebook<br />

and with zero forethought wrote, “She<br />

lived life to the fullest, every moment!<br />

She struggled, sought, suffered,<br />

pondered, stretched herself. She asked<br />

Christ to restore her sight. She made<br />

a beautiful home, wherever she was.<br />

She loved flowers, trees, birds, the sky,<br />

the sea. She loved walking, reading,<br />

playing the piano, and she ordered her<br />

life so as to allow maximum time to<br />

enjoy and praise those things. She was<br />

lively. She had a sense of humor and a<br />

spirit of fun. She had many character<br />

defects — hardness of heart, impatience,<br />

quickness to judge — but she<br />

worked on them and asked constantly<br />

for them to be removed. She”…<br />

Just then, someone called who needed<br />

my help and I broke off.<br />

So far, I haven’t gone back to complete<br />

my obituary. (Father Rolheiser<br />

suggests that we review and rewrite it<br />

each year).<br />

But afterward I was struck that what<br />

came out so spontaneously wasn’t,<br />

“She spent 20 years of her life on a bar<br />

stool and committed many egregious<br />

sins during and after that time,” nor<br />

“She was mean to her mother while in<br />

adolescence and has bitterly regretted<br />

the meanness ever since,” nor “Her<br />

severe narcissistic wound led her to<br />

take everything personally, hog the<br />

conversation, and demand love and<br />

attention far beyond her share.”<br />

<strong>No</strong>r on the other hand did I write,<br />

“She was valedictorian of her eighthgrade<br />

class, seventh in her class of<br />

more than 300 her first year of law<br />

school, and has won several awards for<br />

her writing.”<br />

I didn’t even put down, “She quit her<br />

high-paying job as a lawyer to pursue<br />

her vocation of writing,” or “She’s<br />

been sober 36 years,” or “She converted<br />

to Catholicism in 1996 and it has<br />

been the crown and glory of her life.”<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>

Heather King is an award-winning<br />

author, speaker, and workshop leader.<br />

I wrote what fills me with daily<br />

joy. I wrote the things for which I’m<br />

grateful.<br />

“Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy<br />

house and the place where Thy glory<br />

dwelleth” (Psalm 28:6).<br />

I didn’t even have time to get to my<br />

siblings, my friends, my companions<br />

in recovery, my fellow members of the<br />

Mystical Body, the angels, martyrs,<br />

saints, and unsung heroes who shore<br />

me up, light the way, and demonstrate<br />

every minute of my life that, as St.<br />

Catherine of Siena said, “All the way<br />

to heaven is heaven.”<br />

Speaking of heaven, the Advent and<br />

Christmas seasons are simultaneously<br />

exhausting and strangely exhilarating.<br />

All kinds of bustling activity lead up to<br />

the birth of a baby — and then we’re<br />

invited to turn inward, taking stock of<br />

the previous 12 months and contemplating<br />

the 12 months ahead.<br />

A wonderful passage in “The Way of<br />

the Disciple” (Ignatius Press, $14.95),<br />

a short book by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis<br />

(now known as Father Simeon, a<br />

Trappist monk at St. Joseph’s Abbey in<br />

Spencer, Massachusetts) captures the<br />

paradox:<br />

“True, Jesus ‘gives us rest.’ But we<br />

must be clear that such ‘rest’ is totally<br />

different from ‘resting up’ in order to<br />

get back to the daily toils of life, different,<br />

too, from recreation or distraction<br />

or vacationing, all of which are ordered<br />

to getting back to the ‘serious’ part of<br />

life. It seems to me that this ‘rest for<br />

our souls’ is intended by Jesus to be a<br />

real and genuine state of life, the natural<br />

condition in which a child of God<br />

habitually exists, and not just a passing<br />

phase of recovery. It is a deep condition<br />

of soul that is quite compatible<br />

with all the ordinary, exterior activities<br />

and efforts of human life. The one who<br />

truly becomes God’s child, like Jesus,<br />

enjoys such rest as the very element of<br />

existence in which he swims.”<br />

Left to my own devices, I tend to veer<br />

between frenetic activity and physical-emotional<br />

collapse.<br />

Still, that I was able to regard the<br />

sweep of my life and write so freely<br />

that recent morning is perhaps a sign<br />

of having been granted a certain “rest<br />

for my soul.” Beneath the surface anxiety,<br />

could it be that all those years of<br />

struggling, stretching, and praying had<br />

resulted in a strange kind of underlying<br />

peace as a state of life?<br />

I hardly dare voice such a thought, as<br />

we all know what happens next: an utterly<br />

trifling occurrence — a banking<br />

snafu, a tire with low air — will throw<br />

me completely off course.<br />

Still, I say: Enjoy those moments of<br />

peace when they come!<br />

So as we enter 2024, let’s try writing<br />

our own obituary. Then let’s keep<br />

on living, as fully and as long as we<br />

possibly can.<br />




Scott Hahn is founder of the<br />

St. Paul Center for Biblical<br />

Theology; stpaulcenter.com.<br />

The hero is the family<br />

When I wrote my book “Joy to the World,” I made<br />

a novel claim. I argued that the Christmas story<br />

seemed to lack a hero, at least in any conventional<br />

literary sense of the term.<br />

Hear me out.<br />

We tend to read the Gospel narrative through 2,000 years<br />

of tradition, and so it seems obvious to us that the hero is<br />

Jesus. He’s the “reason for the season.” He’s the Christ we<br />

strive to keep in Christ-mas. It’s his story we hear — and<br />

“The Holy Family with Mary Magdalen,” by El Greco,<br />

1541-1614, Greek. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS<br />

then go out to “tell it on the mountain.”<br />

But baby Jesus doesn’t fit the classical model of a hero.<br />

He’s passive: nursed and placed to sleep in a manger, found<br />

on his mother’s lap by the Magi, carried away in flight to<br />

Egypt. Like any baby, he exercises a powerful attraction —<br />

drawing love from those who draw near. Yet he is visible<br />

only because other arms are holding him.<br />

The Christmas story actually has an unconventional hero<br />

— not a warrior, not a worldly conqueror, not an individual<br />

at all, but rather a family. The details of the story always<br />

lead us back to that fact. We see the swaddling bands and<br />

know they’re for a baby; but someone had to do the swaddling.<br />

So we have a mother and child. We have a father.<br />

We have a household. We hear tell of the manger-crib<br />

where he lay; but someone needed to place him there. We<br />

read of the child’s exile in Egypt; but someone had to take<br />

him there — someone had to protect him from brigands<br />

along the desert roads — and someone had to work hard to<br />

support the mother and baby in a foreign land.<br />

The scenes of Christmas are dramatic precisely because<br />

they involve the intersection of so many individual lives.<br />

Indeed, the other details of the story derive their meaning<br />

from the Gospel’s primary focus on the family. Herod,<br />

for example, is clearly anti-family and anti-child. History<br />

tells us that King Herod slaughtered his own sons; and the<br />

Gospel shows him commanding his soldiers to turn their<br />

swords upon the children of Bethlehem.<br />

The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the key<br />

to Christianity. The family is a key to everything. St. Pope<br />

John Paul II noted that everything good — history, humanity,<br />

salvation — “passes by way of the family.”<br />

One of the most profound implications of the Christmas<br />

story is this: that God had made his dwelling place among<br />

men, women, and children, and he called them to become<br />

his family, his holy household.<br />

And so we find ourselves again at the center of the drama.<br />

We live in families that have their struggles. We find ourselves,<br />

as a society, facing anti-life, anti-family forces that<br />

seem unbeatable.<br />

We must never despair. We must remember Christmas<br />

and press on toward Bethlehem. The Holy Family enjoyed<br />

the protection of heaven, and now we are Jesus’ holy family.<br />

We are his household on earth. God will empower us<br />

to accomplish his will for our time. Christmas is our proof.<br />

Christmas is our assurance.<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>December</strong> <strong>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong>


Classical Midnight Mass. St. Cyril of Jerusalem Church,<br />

15520 Ventura Blvd., Encino, 12 a.m. Full choir, soloists,<br />

and chamber orchestra will perform Christmas Mass. Service<br />

is preceded by hymns and carols at 11:30 p.m.<br />

■ FRIDAY, DECEMBER <strong>29</strong><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 818-815-4480.<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: $25/adults, $10/children 7-16, under 7 free.<br />

RSVP to Anna Riggs at 661-645-7877.<br />

Mass for the Intention of Father Aloysius’ Beatification<br />

and Canonization. San Gabriel Mission, 425 S. Junipero<br />

Serra Dr., San Gabriel, 7:30 a.m. rosary, 8 a.m. Mass. Mass<br />

to pray for the canonization of Father Aloysius will take<br />

place on the first Saturday of every month.<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 562-537-45<strong>26</strong>.<br />

Changing Seasons: Ordinary Time. Zoom, 7-8:30 p.m.<br />

Class led by Father Juan Ochoa will explore the Bible readings<br />

for Ordinary Time. Visit lacatholics.org/events.<br />


Bereavement Retreat. St. Raymond Church, 12348 Paramount<br />

Blvd., #3538, Downey, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Find help and<br />

healing in grief. Day includes 5 p.m. Mass. Cost: $50/person,<br />

includes continental breakfast, lunch, and all materials.<br />

Payment can be made to St. Raymond Church or through<br />

Zelle to 562-631-8844. RSVP by Jan. 2 to bereavement.<br />

ministry@yahoo.com.<br />

Christian Coaching: Prospering the Body, Soul, and Spirit.<br />

Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 9:30<br />

a.m.-3:30 p.m. For more information, visit hsrcenter.com or<br />

call 818-815-4480.<br />

30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast.<br />

Proud Bird Restaurant, 11022 Aviation Blvd., Los Angeles,<br />

8-11 a.m. Organized by the African American Catholic<br />

Center for Evangelization. Keynote speaker: Professor<br />

Michael Howard, Black Catholic program, LMU. Cost: $50/<br />

donation. Visit aaccfe.org.<br />

■ SUNDAY, JANUARY 14<br />

Diaconate Virtual Information Day. 2-4 p.m. Open to all<br />

those interested in joining the diaconate program. Email<br />

your name, parish, and pastor’s name to dmz2011@la-archdiocese.org.<br />

■ MONDAY, JANUARY 15<br />

End of Life Preparation. St. Bruno Church, 15740 Citrustree<br />

Rd., Whittier, 9-10:30 a.m. or 7-8:30 p.m. RSVP to<br />

Cathy by Jan. 10 at 562-631-8844.<br />


OneLife LA. LA State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St., Los<br />

Angeles, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Join Archbishop José H. Gomez on<br />

a walk for life through downtown Los Angeles, followed by<br />

a festival with speakers, music, and food. Theme: “10 Years<br />

Together As One.” For more information, visit onelifela.org.<br />

Alleluia Dance Theatre: Embracing All There Is. Holy Spirit<br />

Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. For<br />

more information, visit hsrcenter.com or call 818-815-4480.<br />

100th Celebration. St. Sebastian Church, 1453 Federal<br />

Ave., Los Angeles, 10 a.m. Mass. Celebrant: Bishop Matthew<br />

Elshoff. Reception to follow. Email stsebastianoffice@<br />

gmail.com.<br />


The Indwelling Wholeness of the Trinity. St. Andrew<br />

Church, 538 Concord St., El Segundo, 9:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m.<br />

Retreat focuses on a contemplative experience to prayerfully<br />

enter the inner sanctum of the heart in the art of attention.<br />

Cost: $25/offering, includes continental breakfast<br />

and lunch salad bar. RSVP by Jan. 20. Contact nbstjames@<br />

gmail.com.<br />

■ MONDAY, JANUARY <strong>29</strong><br />

End of Life Preparation. St. Bruno Church, 15740 Citrustree<br />

Rd., Whittier, 9-10:30 a.m. or 7-8:30 p.m. RSVP to<br />

Cathy by Jan. 10 at 562-631-8844.<br />


Ethical Leadership Lunch. Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 11:30 a.m.-1:30<br />

p.m. Event brings together Catholic leaders from the<br />

business world to discuss how ethical practices positively<br />

impact our community. For more, visit lacatholics.org/<br />

events.<br />


Nun Run, 5K, 1-Mile, and Community Service Fair. La<br />

Reina High School, 106 W. Janss Rd., Thousand Oaks,<br />

8 a.m. 10th annual Nun Run, hosted by Sisters of <strong>No</strong>tre<br />

Dame, will raise proceeds for local and global outreach.<br />

Visit nun.run.<br />


Changing Seasons: Lent to Palm Sunday. Zoom, 7-8:30<br />

p.m. Class led by Father Felix Just, SJ, will explore Bible<br />

readings for Lent to Palm Sunday. Visit lacatholics.org/<br />

events.<br />


Valentine’s Dinner. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church,<br />

23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall, 12 p.m. Hosted by the Italian<br />

Catholic Club of SCV, includes complimentary glass of<br />

wine. Cost: $45/person. RSVP to Anna Riggs at 661-645-<br />

7877 by Feb. 5.<br />


Youth Day: RECongress. Anaheim Convention Center,<br />

200 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Young<br />

people will enjoy a general session, keynote speech, two<br />

workshops, and Eucharistic liturgy. Speakers include Baby<br />

Angel, Chris Estrella, and Maggie Craig. Cost: $40/person.<br />

Register at recongress.org.<br />


Religious Education Congress. Anaheim Convention<br />

Center, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim. Events run Feb.<br />

16-18, and include speakers, sacraments, films, and<br />

workshops. Keynote speaker: Jessica Sarowitz, founder of<br />

Miraflores Films. Cost: $75/person until Jan. 15, $85 after.<br />

For more information, visit recongress.org.<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>29</strong>, <strong>2023</strong> • ANGELUS • 33

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