Angelus News | February 23, 2024 | Vol. 9 No. 4

On the cover: A painting depicting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by 19th-century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch. For Christians, Lent can be compared to the time Jesus spent praying in the desert. But we may also find ourselves this time of year in the agony of the garden, going through our own Gethsemane of personal suffering. On Page 10, Msgr. Richard Antall reflects on two traditional prayers to the same angel that comforted Christ on the Mount of Olives.

On the cover: A painting depicting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by 19th-century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch. For Christians, Lent can be compared to the time Jesus spent praying in the desert. But we may also find ourselves this time of year in the agony of the garden, going through our own Gethsemane of personal suffering. On Page 10, Msgr. Richard Antall reflects on two traditional prayers to the same angel that comforted Christ on the Mount of Olives.


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This Lent, pray to the angel who<br />

helped Jesus in his darkest hour<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 9 <strong>No</strong>. 4

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 9 • <strong>No</strong>. 4<br />

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A painting depicting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by<br />

19th-century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch. For Christians, Lent can be<br />

compared to the time Jesus spent praying in the desert. But we may<br />

also find ourselves this time of year in the agony of the garden, going<br />

through our own Gethsemane of personal suffering. On Page 10,<br />

Msgr. Richard Antall reflects on two traditional prayers to the same<br />

angel that comforted Christ on the Mount of Olives.<br />



People gather near an encampment of<br />

homeless people in Skid Row on Feb. 6<br />

after a powerful atmospheric river storm<br />

pummeled Southern California with<br />

record rainfall, flooding, landslides, and<br />

power outages.


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

Archbishop Gomez................................. 3<br />

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

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

Father Rolheiser....................................... 8<br />

Scott Hahn.............................................. 32<br />

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

14<br />

16<br />

18<br />

24<br />

26<br />

28<br />

30<br />

Salesian High’s 1974 graduates return home 50 years later<br />

Photos: Catholic Schools Week <strong>2024</strong> around the archdiocese<br />

The healing power of water is the focus at World Day of the Sick<br />

An explainer on Rome’s very different approaches to China and Nicaragua<br />

Grazie Christie: How I found the right work-life balance through faith<br />

‘Cabrini’ is a film worthy of America’s immigrant saint<br />

Heather King on her father as she ponders: What is a man?<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 1


Our leprosies of the soul<br />

The following is adapted from the Holy<br />

Father’s homily at the Feb. 11 canonization<br />

Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for<br />

St. María Antonia de San José (known<br />

as “Mama Antula”), an 18th-century<br />

consecrated laywoman from Argentina.<br />

In attendance was Argentine President<br />

Javier Milei, who exchanged words and<br />

a laugh with Pope Francis after the<br />

Mass. The president, who has made<br />

disparaging remarks about the pope in<br />

the past, leaned down and gave a big<br />

hug to the pope, who was seated in his<br />

wheelchair.<br />

The leper in today’s Gospel (cf.<br />

Mark 1:40–45) was forced to live<br />

outside the city, forsaken and<br />

wounded by ostracism and rejection.<br />

Why? First, because of fear, fear of<br />

catching the disease and meeting the<br />

same end, prejudice: (“If he has this<br />

terrible illness,” people thought, “God<br />

is punishing him for some sin he committed”);<br />

and false religiosity: in those<br />

days it was thought that touching a<br />

dead person made one ritually impure,<br />

and lepers were like the walking dead.<br />

These are the three “leprosies of the<br />

soul” that cause the weak to suffer and<br />

then be discarded like refuse.<br />

In our time too, there are striking<br />

cases of ostracism … forms of “leprosy”<br />

to be cured. But what does Jesus do?<br />

He touches and he heals.<br />

When Jesus touches the man, he<br />

responds to his cry for help, he feels<br />

compassion, he halts, he reaches out<br />

and touches him, knowing full well<br />

that in doing so he will in turn become<br />

a “pariah.”<br />

Oddly enough, the roles are now<br />

reversed: once healed, the sick person<br />

will be able to go to the priests and be<br />

readmitted to the community; Jesus,<br />

on the other hand, will no longer be<br />

able to enter any town. The Lord could<br />

have avoided touching that man; it<br />

would have been enough to perform a<br />

“distance healing.” Yet that is not the<br />

way of Christ. His way is that of a love<br />

that draws near to those who suffer,<br />

enters into contact with them and<br />

touches their wounds.<br />

Our God did not remain distant in<br />

heaven, but in Jesus, he became man<br />

to touch our poverty. And before the<br />

worst case of “leprosy,” which is sin, he<br />

did not hesitate to die on the cross, outside<br />

the walls of the city, rejected like<br />

a sinner, like a leper, in order to touch<br />

the depths of our human reality.<br />

The second thing that Jesus does is he<br />

heals. His “touch” is not only a sign of<br />

closeness, but also the beginning of the<br />

process of healing … once we let ourselves<br />

be touched by Jesus, we start to<br />

heal within, in our hearts. If we let ourselves<br />

be touched by him in prayer and<br />

adoration, if we permit him to act in us<br />

through his Word and his sacraments,<br />

that contact truly changes us. It heals<br />

us of sin, sets us free from our self-absorption,<br />

and transforms us beyond<br />

anything we could possibly achieve by<br />

ourselves and our own efforts.<br />

Our wounds, our sicknesses of the<br />

soul, need to be brought to Jesus.<br />

Prayer accomplishes this: not prayer<br />

as an abstract and repetitive set of<br />

formulas, but a heartfelt and living<br />

prayer that places at the feet of Christ<br />

our miseries, our frailties, our failings,<br />

and our fears.<br />

Thanks to the love of Christ, we<br />

rediscover the joy of giving ourselves<br />

to others, without fears and prejudices,<br />

experiencing a renewed ability to love<br />

others in a generous and disinterested<br />

way.<br />

Papal Prayer Intention for <strong>February</strong>: We pray that those with<br />

a terminal illness, and their families, receive the necessary<br />

physical and spiritual care and accompaniment.<br />

2 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>



Becoming ‘another Christ’<br />

On Feb. 10 at the Cathedral of Our<br />

Lady of the Angels, Archbishop José<br />

H. Gomez celebrated the 22nd Annual<br />

Black History Mass sponsored by<br />

the African American Catholic Center<br />

for Evangelization. The following is<br />

adapted from his homily.<br />

Black Catholic history is American<br />

history. It is American<br />

Catholic history. And it is also<br />

a chapter in God’s beautiful plan for<br />

salvation history.<br />

It is the story of men and women<br />

walking together with Jesus Christ in<br />

holiness, love, and service, building<br />

his kingdom in America.<br />

And this history has created a strong<br />

community of faith, not only here in<br />

Los Angeles but all across the country<br />

— men and women who are keepers<br />

of the flame, carrying out the mission<br />

of evangelization in our parishes and<br />

homes, in our schools and in our<br />

communities.<br />

And in this work, we are surrounded<br />

by a great cloud of witnesses who<br />

have gone before us, holy men and<br />

women like the Venerables Henriette<br />

Delille and Augstus Tolton, the Servants<br />

of God Julia Greeley and Thea<br />

Bowman, and so many more.<br />

We still have work to do to break<br />

down the barriers of prejudice, in our<br />

society, and also in the Church.<br />

But throughout history, holiness has<br />

always been God’s response to injustice.<br />

So we pray to grow in holiness as<br />

we follow ever more faithfully in the<br />

footsteps of Jesus Christ.<br />

We ask the intercession of those<br />

holy men and women who have gone<br />

before us. We ask that they help us<br />

to proclaim the beautiful truth that<br />

every man and woman is a child of<br />

God, made in his image, no matter<br />

what the color of their skin or the<br />

place where they were born.<br />

And Jesus gives us a powerful picture<br />

of that truth in the tender Gospel<br />

story of his healing of the leper.<br />

This leper knows that he needs<br />

Jesus. He knows that only Jesus can<br />

set him free from his illness. He trusts<br />

in Our Lord’s healing mercy.<br />

In those days, we know, lepers<br />

were forced to live at the margins of<br />

society, shunned as “unclean” and<br />

forbidden to come in contact with<br />

others. But this leper refused to let<br />

these social barriers prevent him from<br />

meeting Jesus.<br />

He comes to Jesus, kneels down,<br />

and begs him with a simple prayer:<br />

“If you wish, you can make me<br />

clean.”<br />

Jesus is touched by the man’s faith,<br />

he is “moved with pity.”<br />

And even though the law of his time<br />

forbids Jesus from coming near this<br />

man, Jesus not only allows the leper<br />

to approach him, he stretches out his<br />

hand and touches the man.<br />

He answers the leper’s prayer with<br />

such a tender reply: “I do will it,” he<br />

says. “Be made clean.”<br />

<strong>No</strong>thing can separate us from the<br />

love of Jesus!<br />

Jesus came into this world so that<br />

every person might seek him and find<br />

healing and salvation. He came to<br />

make all of us brothers and sisters in<br />

the family of God.<br />

This is our work now. This is the<br />

mission of every member of the<br />

Church.<br />

St. Paul tells us, “Be imitators of me,<br />

as I am of Christ.”<br />

There is no better definition of what<br />

it means to be a Christian! We are<br />

called to live by Our Lord’s words<br />

and example, to be imitators of<br />

Christ.<br />

The saints say that each one of us<br />

must become an alter Christus, another<br />

Christ.<br />

We see this in the lives of so many of<br />

the Black Catholics who went before<br />

us.<br />

Each of them was an alter Christus,<br />

imitating Jesus, spreading the love of<br />

God, sharing his mercy, speaking to<br />

the hearts of their neighbors in need.<br />

They called the Servant of God<br />

Julia Greeley “Denver’s Angel of<br />

Charity.”<br />

She was an emancipated slave<br />

who used her freedom to serve<br />

others, wheeling a little red wagon<br />

all around the city, bringing food,<br />

clothing, firewood, and more to the<br />

poor. Often she would work at night<br />

or in secret, leaving her gifts of charity<br />

on people’s doorsteps.<br />

Mother Mary Lange, another<br />

Servant of God, started schools for<br />

African Americans and immigrants.<br />

She took care of orphans and cared<br />

for the dying and terminally ill.<br />

You and I are called to walk in their<br />

footsteps, as they walked in the footsteps<br />

of Jesus.<br />

We are called to be peacemakers<br />

and healers in our world, as Jesus<br />

was. We are called to spread his tender<br />

love, to reach across every barrier,<br />

to break down the walls of hostility<br />

that divide us and keep us apart from<br />

others.<br />

So let us honor the proud legacy of<br />

our Black Catholic ancestors by continuing<br />

their work of building Christ’s<br />

kingdom in America.<br />

May holy Mary, our Blessed Mother<br />

go with us, and may she help each<br />

of us to become more and more an<br />

imitator of her Son, and “another<br />

Christ.”<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

■ How a Catholic rose to the top in<br />

Protestant <strong>No</strong>rthern Ireland<br />

For the first time in the country’s history, a Catholic was appointed as first minister<br />

of <strong>No</strong>rthern Ireland.<br />

Michelle O’Neill was appointed after her party, Sinn Féin, which has ties to the<br />

Provisional Irish Republican Army, negotiated a power-sharing government Feb. 3<br />

that ended two years of political deadlock.<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthern Ireland has been separate from the Republic of Ireland since 1921<br />

and remains a part of the United Kingdom. Its first prime minister, James Craig,<br />

described its government as a “Protestant parliament for a Protestant people.”<br />

Historical disputes about discrimination practices against Catholics contributed to<br />

“The Troubles,” a 30-year period of political violence in Ireland.<br />

“The days of second-class citizenship are long gone, and today confirms that they<br />

will never come back,” O’Neill addressed the Assembly following her appointment.<br />

Though<br />

historically<br />

associated<br />

with Irish<br />

Catholics,<br />

Sinn Féin<br />

has recently<br />

maintained<br />

party positions<br />

that<br />

contradict<br />

Church<br />

teaching,<br />

including increased<br />

access<br />

to abortion<br />

and availability<br />

of gender<br />

Michelle O’Neill, newly elected as the first minister of <strong>No</strong>rthern Ireland, speaks to legislators in<br />

Belfast Feb. 3. In <strong>No</strong>rthern Ireland, the title “first minister” is equivalent to prime minister used<br />


■ Taiwan: We share Vatican’s<br />

concerns about AI<br />

Taiwan, a world leader in chip manufacturing and the development<br />

of artificial intelligence, joined Pope Francis in calling for greater<br />

regulation of artificial intelligence (AI).<br />

“As Your Holiness has warned, the growing scope of AI applications<br />

and its implications for human values engender grave ethical risks,<br />

such as invasion of privacy, data manipulation, and illegal surveillance,<br />

which all have serious consequences for free and democratic<br />

societies,” wrote President Tsai Ing-wen in a Jan. 31 letter to the pope.<br />

The letter was a response to the pope’s <strong>2024</strong> World Day of Peace<br />

address, which focused on AI and called on researchers and policymakers<br />

to direct the technology with an eye toward peace.<br />

Ing-wen vowed that Taiwan will “deepen cooperation” with the Holy<br />

See in working toward “exercising good technological governance,<br />

maintaining social harmony and stability, and jointly creating a<br />

peaceful future for humanity.”<br />

reassignment<br />

treatment for<br />

children.<br />

■ Pope says antisemitism a<br />

‘sin’ in letter to Israeli Jews<br />

Following criticism that he hasn’t<br />

been supportive enough of Israel in<br />

its war against Hamas, Pope Francis<br />

condemned antisemitism as a “sin” in<br />

a letter addressed to “Jewish brothers<br />

and sisters in Israel.”<br />

“The path that the Church has<br />

walked with you, the ancient people<br />

of the covenant, rejects every form<br />

of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism,<br />

unequivocally condemning manifestations<br />

of hatred toward Jews and Judaism<br />

as a sin against God,” the pope<br />

wrote in a Feb. 2 letter sent to Jewish<br />

theologian Karma Ben Johanan.<br />

The pope also repeated his calls for<br />

peace in the region and for Hamas to<br />

release the remaining hostages taken<br />

during their Oct. 7 attack.<br />

The letter followed a private meeting<br />

with Israeli leaders and the Chief<br />

Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni,<br />

who have been critical of the pope’s<br />

commentary on the ongoing war and<br />

public support of a cease-fire.<br />

“Everyone wants peace, but it<br />

depends on what kind,” di Segni said<br />

last month in a speech at Rome’s<br />

Gregorian University. “Whoever does<br />

evil must be defeated, as happened<br />

with the Nazis in 1945. You can’t just<br />

accept the idea that war, in itself, is a<br />

defeat for everyone.”<br />

Taiwan President Tsai<br />

Ing-wen. | WANG YU<br />



4 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

NATION<br />

Father Robert Hoeffner. |<br />


■ Florida priest, sister<br />

killed in shooting rampage<br />

Catholics in Palm Bay, Florida, are<br />

mourning the death of a beloved retired<br />

priest and his sister in a shooting<br />

spree last month.<br />

The bodies of Father Robert Hoeffner,<br />

76, and his sister, Sally Hoeffner,<br />

69, were discovered Jan. 28 after a<br />

shootout with 24-year-old Brandan<br />

William Kapas. Kapas allegedly shot<br />

and killed his grandfather and injured<br />

two police officers, before being killed<br />

in a shootout with police.<br />

Hoeffner’s brother Kevin told media<br />

the priest knew and had tried to help<br />

Kapas, who was experiencing personal<br />

hardships.The car Kapas used during<br />

the rampage belonged to Hoeffner,<br />

police said.<br />

“He was very generous with his time<br />

and with his money, and with his<br />

talents, and he just kept giving,” Kevin<br />

told Treasure Coast <strong>News</strong>papers.<br />

Hoeffner had just celebrated his 50th<br />

jubilee as a priest of the Diocese of<br />

Orlando last April.<br />

■ Bishops: Failed immigration bill<br />

‘life-threatening’ and ‘counterproductive’<br />

U.S. bishops expressed “serious concerns” about a bipartisan border control bill<br />

that eventually failed a procedural vote.<br />

Brokered by a trio of Republican, Democratic, and independent senators, the<br />

bill proposed making claiming asylum harder and allowing the government to<br />

immediately deport migrants based on the average number of daily border crossings.<br />

The bill also included provisions for sending aid to Ukraine and Israel.<br />

El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the U.S. bishops Committee on<br />

Migration, worried the bill would “unjustly undermine due process and pave<br />

the way for avoidable and potentially life-threatening harm to be inflicted on<br />

vulnerable persons seeking humanitarian protection in the United States,” and<br />

that it would “create the opportunity for harmful, arbitrary, and counterproductive<br />

treatment of vulnerable persons.”<br />

Thanks largely to opposition from Republicans, on Feb. 6, the bill failed to<br />

receive the 60 votes needed to pass cloture, a procedural vote that moves a bill<br />

out of debate.<br />

A key Catholic voice — Pro-life legal scholar Helen Alvaré speaks after accepting the Christifideles Laici Award<br />

at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Feb. 8. A law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin<br />

Scalia Law School, Alvaré has for years advised the U.S. bishops and the Vatican on pro-life issues. | OSV NEWS/<br />


■ CUA professor fired after hosting ‘abortion doula’<br />

A psychology professor at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., was fired after she invited a<br />

self-described “abortion doula” to address a class.<br />

According to a Jan. 26 report in The Daily Signal, lecturer Melissa Goldberg invited Rachel Carbonneau to speak as part of a<br />

course called “Lifespan Development.” Carbonneau is founder and CEO of Family Ways, which provides a range of prenatal<br />

and postnatal services.<br />

“I am an abortion doula as well,” said a female voice, believed to be Carbonneau, in an audio recording released by The<br />

Daily Signal. “And I know I’m at Catholic University. I was a student here myself. So I know that carries a lot of weight for a lot<br />

of people.”<br />

“While we were unable to confirm what exactly was said in the class, we did determine that the speaker’s views on life issues<br />

and on the anthropology of the human person were not consistent with our mission and identity as a faithful Catholic university,<br />

and that she should not be allowed to address the class again,” CUA president Peter Kilpatrick said in a Jan. 30 statement.<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

LOCAL<br />

■ Catholic Charities<br />

requests donations for<br />

storm-battered SoCal<br />

Catholic Charities of Los Angeles is asking<br />

for donations to help all those affected by the<br />

damage caused by record rainfall and mudslides<br />

during the week of Feb. 4.<br />

Several areas across Southern California<br />

broke rainfall records and received a significant<br />

portion of their yearly rainfall in only a<br />

matter of days. The city of Los Angeles alone<br />

reported more than 500 mudslides and redtagged<br />

more than 15 buildings. State officials<br />

confirmed that at least nine people died<br />

during the storm.<br />

California Gov. Gavin <strong>News</strong>om declared a<br />

state of emergency during the storm for eight<br />

Southern California counties, including Los<br />

Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and<br />

Ventura counties.<br />

The disaster relief fund “will be used to help<br />

families and individuals who are suffering<br />

from the effects of the storm, and Catholic<br />

Charities USA is sending additional funding<br />

for disaster relief,” said spokeswoman Alexandria<br />

Arnold.<br />

To help, visit catholiccharitiesla.org/donate.<br />

■ Archbishop Gomez featured<br />

in new Guadalupe film<br />

Tickets have gone on sale for the film “Guadalupe: Mother of Humanity,”<br />

which opens in U.S. theaters on Feb. 22.<br />

The movie gives a reenactment of the moments when Our Lady of<br />

Guadalupe appeared in Mexico to St. Juan Diego in 1531, plus interviews<br />

and testimonials from those who have personally been impacted by<br />

the mother of God.<br />

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez is featured in the film, along<br />

with footage of the archdiocese’s devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe,<br />

which includes the annual procession and Mass in East LA and the<br />

pilgrimage to Mexico City every year.<br />

To watch the trailer, purchase tickets or request a screening, visit guadalupethemovie.com.<br />

LA Archbishop José H. Gomez is interviewed<br />

inside the Cathedral of Our Lady<br />

of the Angels as part of the “Guadalupe”<br />


Y<br />

They’re creepy and they’re kooky — Students at St. Anastasia Catholic School in Playa del Rey performed “The<br />

Addams Family” musical on Feb. 2-3 at the El Segundo Performing Arts Center. | BRIAN MORRI<br />

■ Salesian High grad<br />

makes big play in first<br />

Super Bowl<br />

Bishop Mora Salesian High School<br />

graduate and San Francisco 49ers<br />

cornerback Deommodore Lenoir<br />

had a big moment in Super Bowl<br />

LVIII, forcing a fumble of Kansas City<br />

Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco in<br />

the second quarter.<br />

The 49ers eventually lost in overtime<br />

to the Chiefs, who won their third<br />

Super Bowl in the past five years.<br />

Lenoir, 24, a third-year NFL pro who<br />

also attended Maria Regina Catholic<br />

School in Gardena, graduated from<br />

Salesian High in 2017 and is the first<br />

Mustangs player to play in the Super<br />

Bowl.<br />

His roots in South LA and at Salesian<br />

High helped prepare him for this<br />

experience, he told NBC <strong>News</strong>.<br />

“It really taught me to be humble for<br />

everything I got now. It’s a blessing for<br />

me.”<br />

6 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

V<br />


Letters to the Editor<br />

A fitting tribute to ‘Chinatown’ — and LA<br />

Thank you for the fabulous and thoughtful piece from Joseph Joyce<br />

in the Feb. 9 issue (“The Perfect LA film?”) about the legacy — and<br />

continued relevance — of “Chinatown,” one of the greatest movies of all time.<br />

We associate Jack Nicholson so closely with sitting courtside at the Forum (and,<br />

er, Crypto or whatever) that we sometimes forget what a brilliant young actor he<br />

was. I’m not sure I agree with all of Joyce’s observations about Southern California<br />

and its denizens, but all in all, not bad for someone who relocated from the Great<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthwest only three years ago.<br />

We take a little while here to understand, especially the push and pull of our<br />

relationships with our vehicles and the roads upon which they travel.<br />

— Mitchell <strong>No</strong>rton, Riverside<br />

Correction<br />

A headline on Page 6 of the Jan. 26 issue incorrectly referred to members of St.<br />

Michael’s Abbey in Orange County as “abbots.” Monasteries for men such as St.<br />

Michael’s are typically made up of monks, not abbots, but are often led by a single<br />

superior referred to as an “abbot.”<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 />

Celebrating sisters with spirit<br />

“You can ask God to move<br />

a mountain, but you’ve also<br />

got to pick up a shovel.”<br />

~ Paul Satterfield, international coordinator for<br />

the Retrouvaille marriage program, in a Feb. 7 OSV<br />

<strong>News</strong> article on the ministry for those struggling in<br />

their marriages.<br />

“He’s like PG-13 Barbie<br />

Jesus.”<br />

~ Elizabeth Lev, Catholic art historian, in a Feb. 5<br />

The Pillar article on the uproar surrounding this<br />

year’s commemorative poster for Seville’s Holy<br />

Week.<br />

“People jokingly call it<br />

Moogle all the time —<br />

Mom Google.”<br />

~ Swati Kapila, actress and mother, in a Feb. 6 LA<br />

Times article on LA’s invite-only mom group that’s<br />

better than Google.<br />

“I went down to hell when<br />

I was little, before I knew<br />

anything about God.”<br />

~ Writer Aaron Lake Smith, in a Jan. 30<br />

Commonweal commentary on how he found God<br />

in punk.<br />

“We don’t need flying<br />

saucers to feel awe.”<br />

~ Nicholson Baker, author, in a Jan. 31 New York<br />

magazine article on the existence of aliens and<br />

UFOs.<br />

Archbishop José H. Gomez stands with several local women religious who are celebrating jubilee anniversaries this year<br />

after the annual Jubilarian Mass on Jan. 28 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 />

“You’re putting the future<br />

on your face.”<br />

~ Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of<br />

worldwide marketing, in a Feb. 1 Vanity Fair article<br />

on the launch of the Apple Vision Pro.<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 7

IN EXILE<br />


Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father<br />

Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual<br />

writer; ronrolheiser.com<br />

The dark night as impasse<br />

What happens to us when we<br />

experience a dark night of<br />

the soul? What’s happening<br />

and what’s to be our response?<br />

There are libraries of literature on<br />

this, each book or article making its<br />

own point, but here I want to share a<br />

rather unique and highly insightful<br />

take on this by Constance FitzGerald,<br />

a Carmelite nun and someone wellversed<br />

in the various classical spiritual<br />

writers who speak about the dark night<br />

of the soul.<br />

She uses the word “impasse” to render<br />

what is commonly called a dark<br />

night of the soul. For her, in effect,<br />

what happens in a dark night of the<br />

soul is that you come to an “impasse”<br />

in your life in terms of your emotions,<br />

your intellect, and your imagination.<br />

All the former ways you understood,<br />

imagined, and felt about things, especially<br />

as this relates to God, faith, and<br />

prayer, no longer work for you.<br />

You are, so to speak, paralyzed, unable<br />

to go back to the way things were<br />

and unable to move forward. And<br />

part of the paralysis is that you cannot<br />

think, imagine, or feel your way out of<br />

this. You are at an impasse — no way<br />

back and no way forward. So, what do<br />

you do? How do you move beyond the<br />

impasse?<br />

There’s no simple or quick path out<br />

of this. You cannot imagine, think, or<br />

feel your way out of this because the<br />

vision, symbols, answers, and feelings<br />

you need, in effect, don’t exist yet, at<br />

least they don’t exist for you. That’s<br />

the exact reason why you are at an<br />

impasse and so emotionally and intellectually<br />

paralyzed. The new vision<br />

and feelings that can reset your vision,<br />

thoughts, and feelings first have to be<br />

gestated and given birth to through<br />

your own pain and confusion.<br />

At this stage, there is no answer, at<br />

least not for you. You may have read<br />

accounts of others who have undergone<br />

the same impasse and who now<br />

offer counsel as to how to undergo the<br />

dark night. That can be useful, but it’s<br />

still your heart, your imagination, and<br />

your intellect that are in the crucible<br />

of fire. Knowing that others have gone<br />

through the same fire can help give<br />

you vision and consolation in your<br />

paralysis, but the fire must still be<br />

gone through in your own life to reset<br />

your own imagination, thoughts, and<br />

feelings.<br />

For FitzGerald, being in this state<br />

is the ultimate liminal space within<br />

which we can find ourselves. This is<br />

a crucible within which we are being<br />

purified. And, for her, the way out<br />

is the way through. The way out of<br />

a dark night of this kind is through<br />

“contemplation,” namely, staying with<br />

the impasse, waiting patiently inside<br />

it, and waiting for God to break the<br />

impasse by transforming our imagination,<br />

intellect, and heart.<br />

So ultimately, this impasse is a<br />

challenge for us to become mystics,<br />

not that we begin to search for an<br />

extraordinary religious experience,<br />

but that we let our disillusion, broken<br />

symbols, and failed meanings become<br />

the space wherein God can reset our<br />

faith, feelings, imagination, and intellect<br />

inside of a new horizon wherein<br />

everything is radically reinterpreted.<br />

How do we do this concretely? How<br />

do we contemplate? We do it by<br />

sitting in the tension, helpless, patient,<br />

open, waiting, and staying there<br />

however long it takes for us to receive<br />

in the depth of our souls a new way<br />

of imagining, thinking, and feeling<br />

about God, faith, and prayer — beyond<br />

the impasse.<br />

Moreover, the broken symbols,<br />

the disillusion, and our helplessness<br />

to think or feel our way out of the<br />

impasse is precisely what assures us<br />

that the new vision which is given<br />

to us comes from God and is not<br />

the product of our own imagination,<br />

projection, or self-interest.<br />

One of the most penetrating criticisms<br />

of religious experience ever given<br />

was made by Friedrich Nietzsche,<br />

who claimed that all religious experience,<br />

all of it, is ultimately human<br />

projection. He argued that we create<br />

God in our self-image and likeness for<br />

our own self-interest, and that is why a<br />

lot of sincere faith and religion can be<br />

hypocritical and false.<br />

Reacting to this, Michael Buckley,<br />

the renowned Jesuit philosopher and<br />

theologian, made this counterclaim:<br />

Nietzsche is 95% correct. Ninety-five<br />

percent of what claims to be a religious<br />

experience is in fact human projection.<br />

But, Buckley adds, Nietzsche<br />

is 5% wrong, and that 5% makes all<br />

the difference — because in that 5%<br />

God’s revelation flows untainted in our<br />

lives.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w, and this is the essential point<br />

here, that 5% happens precisely when<br />

we are in a dark night of the soul,<br />

when our symbols are broken, our<br />

intellect is impotent, our imagination<br />

is empty, and our hearts are at a loss.<br />

It is precisely then, when we are helpless<br />

to help ourselves that we are also<br />

helpless to fudge and taint the way<br />

God is entering us.<br />

God can flow into our lives pure and<br />

untainted when we are at an impasse<br />

and unable to substitute our vision for<br />

God’s vision.<br />

8 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

A prayer made in<br />

the moonlight of<br />

Gethsemane<br />

Lent is the perfect time for a prayerful<br />

conversation with the angel who comforted<br />

Jesus in his agony in the garden.<br />


10 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Painting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane<br />

inside St. Johann der Evangelist<br />

Church in Vienna, by Carl Joseph Geiger,<br />

1822–1905, Austrian. | SHUTTERSTOCK<br />

Sometimes we make prayer more<br />

complicated than it should be.<br />

That great master of prayer, St.<br />

Francis de Sales, described prayer as a<br />

conversation or better, a dialogue.<br />

In his “Introduction to the Devout<br />

Life” he writes: “It is good to use<br />

dialogue and talk to Our Lord and<br />

also to the Angels, to people who are<br />

represented in biblical mysteries, to<br />

the saints and even to ourselves, to our<br />

hearts, to sinners and even to insensible<br />

creatures, as we see in David and<br />

other saints in their meditations and<br />

prayers.”<br />

A dialogue most appropriate for<br />

Lent would be to talk to the angel<br />

who comforted Jesus in his agony in<br />

Gethsemane.<br />

This scene, which we remember in<br />

the first Sorrowful Mystery, is wholly<br />

scriptural, although we only find it in<br />

St. Luke’s Gospel. Jesus, we are told,<br />

knelt down and prayed, “Father if<br />

thou art willing, remove this cup from<br />

me; nevertheless not my will but thine<br />

be done. And there appeared to him<br />

an angel from heaven, strengthening<br />

him. And being in an agony he prayed<br />

more earnestly and his sweat became<br />

like great drops of blood falling down<br />

upon the ground” (Luke 22:43–44).<br />

The classical technique for meditating<br />

on such a Scripture is to put<br />

oneself in the scene as a spectator, to<br />

witness Jesus’ heartfelt prayer, to feel<br />

the pain of body and soul illustrated<br />

with his sweat made blood, and to see<br />

the angel with him.<br />

De Sales’ words about colloquy<br />

encourage us to address not only the<br />

Lord in our dialogue, but also the<br />

“angel from heaven” sent to comfort<br />

the Savior. By our prayer, we become<br />

not just spectators of the scene, but<br />

interlocutors.<br />

We find two prayers to this angel<br />

in the old Raccolta (“Collection”),<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

a book containing prayers and pious<br />

devotions for which indulgences are<br />

attached.<br />

One is very short, a cry of pain,<br />

which St. Pope Pius X recommended<br />

in a rescript in his own hand: “O holy<br />

Angel who strengthened Jesus Christ<br />

Our Lord, come and strengthen us.”<br />

I know many people who, in their<br />

suffering, are in their own Gethsemane.<br />

This prayer helps one to identify<br />

with Jesus on the eve of his sacrifice<br />

and humbly ask for aid.<br />

St. Luke says the angel “strengthened<br />

Jesus.” Angels are personal beings, so<br />

we can ask for the Lord’s help through<br />

the intercession of the spiritual being<br />

given that special mission to be with<br />

Jesus in his suffering humanity.<br />

The second prayer to the angel of<br />

Gethsemane is longer and is more<br />

like a conversation with the angel. My<br />

version is in updated language:<br />

“I greet you, holy Angel who comforted<br />

my Jesus in his agony, and with<br />

you I praise the most Holy Trinity for<br />

having chosen you from among all the<br />

holy angels to console and strengthen<br />

him who is the consolation and<br />

strength of all who are suffering.<br />

“By that honor you received and<br />

the obedience, humility, and love<br />

with which you assisted the Sacred<br />

Humanity of Jesus, my Savior, as He<br />

fainted with sadness contemplating<br />

the sins of the world, and especially<br />

my sins, I beg you to pray that I<br />

may have perfect sorrow for my sins.<br />

Strengthen me in the afflictions that<br />

overwhelm me now and in all the<br />

other trials to come my way, especially<br />

in my own final agony.”<br />

The second prayer implies a dialogue<br />

in which we celebrate with the<br />

angel his mission to Gethsemane.<br />

(Angels do not have gender, but<br />

possessive pronouns are necessary in<br />

English, hence “his”).<br />

Asking for the angel’s help, the<br />

petitioner attempts to understand the<br />

angelic psychology, “by that honor<br />

which you received.” Our side of the<br />

conversation continues acknowledging<br />

the reason that Jesus was in agony:<br />

his apprehension of the weight of our<br />

sins that he was to carry.<br />

St. John Henry Newman has a wonderful<br />

meditation on Jesus contemplating<br />

the ugliness of the sin of the<br />

whole world which he took on himself.<br />

That point of meditation makes<br />

us think that part of that ugliness was<br />

made by our personal sins.<br />

The sins of the whole world included<br />

our own sins. We were there in the<br />

garden, represented by our sins which<br />

made Jesus sweat blood. Thus, we ask<br />

the angel to pray that we have a true<br />

repentance of our sins.<br />

Then we pray to the angel for<br />

strength: What you did for the Sacred<br />

Humanity of Jesus, please do for us,<br />

by the grace of God.<br />

In hospital rooms and funeral parlors,<br />

in nursing homes and hospice<br />

care, in the many lonely places of the<br />

human heart, the shadows of the olive<br />

trees in the moonlight of Gethsemane<br />

are present.<br />

The prayer to the angel who came to<br />

comfort Jesus, asking for consolation<br />

in imitation of Jesus, is a perfect example<br />

of the kind of colloquy de Sales<br />

recommended.<br />

It was customary when the Raccolta<br />

was printed to assign a numerical<br />

value of “indulgenced” days to the<br />

prayers and devotions.<br />

As Catholics, we believe an indulgence<br />

is a shortening of the “temporal<br />

punishment” that we deserve for our<br />

sins, a penalty that still must be paid,<br />

even though we have repented our<br />

sins and been forgiven in confession.<br />

It is about purification.<br />

Assigning a value of days was a metaphor<br />

of justice and proportion. These<br />

two prayers were granted 300 days and<br />

500 days indulgence, respectively,<br />

amounts which now the Church calls<br />

simply, a “partial” indulgence. It is the<br />

Church’s way of saying that all prayer<br />

is fruitful for purifying our souls and<br />

helping us to make up for our past<br />

sins.<br />

Who would not be blessed (purified)<br />

by having a “moment” of conversation<br />

with an angel?<br />

Msgr. Richard Antall is pastor of<br />

Holy Name Church in Cleveland,<br />

Ohio, and the author of several books.<br />

He served as a missionary priest in<br />

El Salvador for more than 20 years<br />

and was named a “<strong>No</strong>ble Friend of<br />

El Salvador” in 2011 by the country’s<br />

National Assembly.<br />

12 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 13

Roots worth celebrating<br />

Members of the Salesian High Class<br />

of 1974 pose with their Golden<br />

Diplomas, which were given out as part<br />

of the school’s Catholic Schools Week<br />

celebration. | VICTOR ALEMÁN<br />

Fifty years ago, they were ‘just<br />

trying to get by.’ Today, Bishop<br />

Mora Salesian’s class of 1974<br />

says their education is a gift<br />

that keeps on giving.<br />


Mauricio Acevedo remembers the angst he and his<br />

classmates faced during their 1974 senior year at<br />

Bishop Mora Salesian High in Boyle Heights.<br />

The Vietnam War, still a year away from ending, required<br />

18-year-olds to register for the military draft. Acevedo took<br />

an aptitude test to access his vocation skills.<br />

“My test said I was going to be a mechanic — that bothered<br />

me for a long time,” said Acevedo. “I didn’t want to<br />

do that. I was good in biology and math. I was competitive<br />

with my buddies.”<br />

He went to Sister Eliza Martin, a beloved chemistry and<br />

biology teacher at the all-boys school. She asked what he<br />

wanted to do instead. He brought up the idea of becoming<br />

a nurse, like his cousin in the Navy.<br />

“I remember her telling me, ‘Why don’t you try to be a<br />

doctor and see what happens?’ ” said Acevedo.<br />

After 40 years as an emergency room physician specializing<br />

in internal medicine for Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin<br />

Park, Acevedo became emotional talking about how<br />

Salesian prepared him for enrolling in Cal State L.A., then<br />

taking classes at USC Keck School of Medicine just blocks<br />

from his Lincoln Heights childhood home.<br />

“Honestly, after all these years, what she said has stayed<br />

with me because, by the grace of God, that was an inspiration<br />

to keep me going,” said the 67-year-old Acevedo,<br />

standing outside of the Salesian High campus gym on Jan.<br />

31 as he held on to his new Golden Diploma, one of 55<br />

honored during the school’s annual Catholic Schools Week<br />

celebration for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.<br />

Alphabetically, Acevedo was first in line to receive the<br />

recognition, wearing a nametag with his 1974 yearbook<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

portrait. Right behind him in line was his brother, Rudy,<br />

a retired engineer. Eventually, the group gathered on the<br />

stairs outside the gym for a photograph to commemorate<br />

their reunion.<br />

For almost 10 years, Salesian has organized this Mass on<br />

the feast day of St. John Bosco as a tribute to its past, with<br />

all its pomp and circumstance. Moises Delgado, the Salesian<br />

High vice president and a member of the class of 1997,<br />

called it a “win-win situation” for students and alums.<br />

“The students get to hear the stories and see the school<br />

pride in the past traditions the school once had, and they<br />

get to share their experiences as well,” said Delgado. “The<br />

alumni recognize that even though time has passed, the<br />

same type of students attend Salesian today. It still serves<br />

students that come from hard-working families and have<br />

opportunities to succeed regardless of what area they came<br />

from.”<br />

In addition to the 390 Salesian High students in attendance,<br />

another 140 elementary students from nearby School<br />

of Santa Isabel participated.<br />

Outside at a reception area where the honored guests were<br />

treated to a lunch, students from the Salesian Lettermen<br />

Society sporting their light blue sweaters gathered to meet<br />

the alums.<br />

Eddie Valdez pointed out to them where the former<br />

school gym was once down the hill at the site of the current<br />

football field. The gym they were just in was once a parking<br />

lot.<br />

“This is the third Golden Diploma event I’ve been part of<br />

watching, and it’s interesting to see what they went through<br />

— and to think about what it might be like in 50 years,”<br />

said Isaiah Ochoa, a senior on Salesian’s Esports team.<br />

Sergio Guzman, a<br />

senior receiver on<br />

the varsity football<br />

team, said the alum’s<br />

enthusiasm “makes<br />

me more excited<br />

each time to see<br />

them come back and<br />

it encourages more<br />

school spirit. I think<br />

of Salesian as a place<br />

where I have become<br />

a young man and<br />

may not have had the<br />

same opportunities at<br />

other schools.”<br />

Jerry Vasquez, a senior<br />

middle linebacker<br />

on the football team,<br />

called it “a blessing<br />

to see my brothers<br />

come back and fully<br />

enjoy what it’s like to still be a Salesian Mustang — once<br />

a Mustang, always a Mustang, in church, at home, and on<br />

the playground.”<br />

Chosen to speak to the gathering prior to the diploma<br />

distribution, Jose Sandoval, a retired Los Angeles Superior<br />

Court judge who studied at Harvard University and UC<br />

Berkeley, told his 1974 classmates that he recalled the Salesian<br />

faculty “may have had more faith in us than we did<br />

in ourselves. … We were just kids from East LA trying to<br />

get by. They could foresee the challenges and setbacks we<br />

would face, and their guidance helped us get through. Our<br />

friendships have endured. A word to the new generation of<br />

Salesian students: Look around and value these guys. They<br />

will make a difference in your life.”<br />

David Gonzalez, an Emmy Award-winning technical director,<br />

videotape engineer, and cameraman at ABC/Disney<br />

for the last 43 years, said as an alum, the best advice he can<br />

give to current day Salesian students: Never give up.<br />

“The school had a profound impact on me,” said Gonzalez,<br />

who moved to the Inland Empire and is active in the<br />

alumni association. “We may have been poor, but purpose<br />

kept us alive.”<br />

Francisco Ruiz recalled the persistence he learned from<br />

Salesian faculty as he studied at UC Santa Cruz, then at<br />

UCLA to get his MBA and work at AT&T for 32 years.<br />

“We were taught to persevere, to move forward and make<br />

the best of what we had, stay up all night and study if you<br />

had to,” said Ruiz, who lives in Whittier. “I have bonds with<br />

these friends through the years — maybe stronger in the<br />

last few years than when we were in school.”<br />

Acevedo, whose son became an orthopedic surgeon and<br />

his daughter became a nurse, laughs when he thinks about<br />

how he signed his classmates’ high school yearbook telling<br />

them he was going to be a doctor.<br />

“And they didn’t believe me,” said Acevedo, a parishioner<br />

at Sacred Heart Church where he lives in Rancho<br />

Cucamonga. “I look back at all the years in college and<br />

interning and training<br />

and it all boils down<br />

to this is where my<br />

roots were set. That’s<br />

important because<br />

when the wind blows,<br />

something has to<br />

keep you grounded.<br />

“I’m blessed because<br />

I started with nothing<br />

and here we are now.<br />

Mauricio Acevedo was one of<br />

the class of 1974 alumni who<br />

returned to receive a Golden<br />

Diploma. Acevedo has spent 40<br />

years as a physician for Kaiser<br />

Permanente in Baldwin Park. |<br />


This was where I<br />

was supposed to be.<br />

Whatever Salesian is still doing now, it’s working. We can’t<br />

take that for granted.”<br />

Tom Hoffarth is an award-winning journalist based in Los<br />

Angeles.<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 15


IN FAITH<br />

Students, teachers, and staff<br />

around the archdiocese found<br />

creative ways to celebrate the 50th<br />

National Catholic Schools Week.<br />

Our Mother of Good Counsel School students<br />

perform as part of Harmony Project’s youth orchestra<br />

program on Jan. 28 as part of Catholic Schools Week.<br />

Our Mother of Good Counsel was also celebrating its<br />

90th anniversary. | RON VILLANUEVA<br />

A second-grader at St. Francis de Sales School in Sherman Oaks poses with the<br />

donated blanket and handwritten note he planned to give as part of the school’s “Day<br />

of Giving Back” on Feb. 1 for Catholic Schools Week. | ST. FRANCIS DE SALES SCHOOL<br />

Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino hosted a Power<br />

Soccer game on Jan. 30 between a team with Duchenne<br />

Muscular Dystrophy versus the school’s coaches and staff.<br />

Auxiliary Bishop Albert Bahhuth, pictured, was on hand to<br />

bless the game, staff, and students. | YANNINA DIAZ<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

As part of its Catholic Schools Week celebration, St. Anthony Catholic School in<br />

Oxnard allowed students a “Global Day of Play” and hosted an evening movie for<br />


Students at Holy Angels Elementary<br />

School in Arcadia celebrated Catholic<br />

Schools Week by racing as part of its<br />

Run for A Cure event in honor of their<br />

former fifth-grade teacher, Jennifer<br />

Bouvet, who the school lost to cancer in<br />

2022. | KATHERINE OROZCO<br />

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez walks with students at St. Pius<br />

X-St. Matthias Academy in Downey for the archdiocese’s kickoff to<br />

Catholic Schools Week on Jan. 29. The school was commemorating its<br />

70th anniversary as <strong>February</strong> part of the celebration. <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • | ANGELUS VICTOR ALEMÁN • 17


At the annual World Day of the Sick Mass,<br />

attendees pondered the healing power of God.<br />


Archbishop José H. Gomez<br />

blesses attendees with holy<br />

water brought by the Order<br />

of Malta members from their<br />

pilgrimage to Lourdes. |<br />


Lourdes has the Gave de Pau<br />

River flowing near it. The<br />

Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels has the 101 Freeway. But what<br />

connects the two is the living water<br />

of Jesus Christ, said Auxiliary Bishop<br />

Slawomir Szkredka during his homily<br />

at the annual World Day of the Sick<br />

Mass on Feb. 10.<br />

Water was a central theme during<br />

the Mass, with attendees getting dusted<br />

with holy water from Lourdes and<br />

the Gospel featuring Jesus during the<br />

wedding at Cana.<br />

In his homily, Szkredka spoke of<br />

three lessons that those — healthy or<br />

sick — could learn from the Virgin<br />

Mary’s interaction with Jesus and<br />

his turning water into wine at the<br />

wedding.<br />

First lesson: Attentiveness to the<br />

needs of others. “She knows that this<br />

couple is about to be embarrassed by<br />

the lack of wine during their wedding<br />

feast. And she attends to their needs.<br />

… We know how much it means to us<br />

in our sickness when someone pays<br />

attention to us. Mary is the attentive<br />

mother who knows our needs, who<br />

pays attention to our needs, who says<br />

“do not worry, I am here.”<br />

Second lesson: Confident prayer.<br />

“When Mary discovers something<br />

is missing, what is her first reaction?<br />

She goes to Jesus without any hesitation.<br />

… This kind of confidence<br />

is something Mary wants to instill in<br />

us. Don’t stay with your needs. Bring<br />

them to Jesus.”<br />

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Third lesson: Accept God’s will. “We<br />

will do the same today, praying for<br />

our brothers and sisters who are sick,<br />

asking for all the miracles for physical<br />

healing, emotional healing, spiritual<br />

healing. … But at the end, we will<br />

always say, ‘Your will be done.’ ”<br />

The bilingual Mass — put on every<br />

year by the Order of Malta — featured<br />

an anointing of the sick and blessings<br />

for caregivers. Each guest also received<br />

a small bottle of water from Lourdes,<br />

along with prayer petition cards that<br />

will be taken in May to the Our Lady<br />

of Lourdes grotto in France.<br />

Lourdes is such a powerful place<br />

that Order of Malta organizers said<br />

they chose it as the theme for this<br />

year’s Mass: “A Spiritual Journey to<br />

Lourdes.” As part of the event, they<br />

also featured photographs of Lourdes<br />

at the cathedral, along with people<br />

who have gone on the pilgrimage to<br />

France to speak about their experiences.<br />

For this year’s Mass, the Order of<br />

Malta also had a 4-foot statue made<br />

of Our Lady of Lourdes — carried<br />

on a platform bedecked with yellow<br />

roses — that they used in the opening<br />

procession, similar to how they do it<br />

on the pilgrimage.<br />

“It’s such a beautiful experience in<br />

Lourdes and we realize that for many<br />

people this is the closest they’re going<br />

to get,” said Ann Sanders, an Order<br />

of Malta Dame who co-chaired the<br />

World Day of the Sick event with Katy<br />

Calderon.<br />

Tom Condon was one of those in attendance<br />

at the Mass, helping to bring<br />

up the gifts for holy Communion.<br />

Although he was seated at the Mass<br />

in a wheelchair — having severe arthritis<br />

in his hips that makes it difficult<br />

to stand or walk for long periods of<br />

time — Condon, 85, was not simply<br />

a bystander to the World Day of the<br />

Sick Mass or the Order of Malta<br />

organization that helps put it on.<br />

For years, Condon served as the first<br />

Los Angeles president of the Order of<br />

Malta, the service organization whose<br />

history goes back nearly 1,000 years.<br />

As a successful businessman in the<br />

securities industry, he transferred his<br />

talents to use for giving back and helping<br />

others.<br />

“I found it very uplifting,” said Condon,<br />

who, along with his wife, Julie,<br />

was in the Order of Malta’s second<br />

class, which is rarer. “Things that I<br />

had never done personally over the<br />

years.<br />

“I really got to a point that I looked<br />

forward to it immensely.”<br />

Condon has had a unique experience<br />

with the Order of Malta. After<br />

years of leading and serving during the<br />

Order of Malta’s sponsored pilgrimages<br />

to Lourdes, France — where<br />

malades (“sick” or “disabled people”)<br />

are taken to the grotto and spiritual<br />

baths of Our Lady of Lourdes —<br />

Condon spent his 10th time on the<br />

pilgrimage, not as a worker, but as a<br />

malade himself.<br />

“As a malade, I could sense the care<br />

and loving that people put in it themselves,”<br />

Condon said. “It’s not a chore,<br />

it’s a privilege.”<br />

Sanders had the opposite experience<br />

of Condon: She first went to Lourdes<br />

as a malade and later served on pilgrimages<br />

as a nurse.<br />

“It was very humbling,” said Sanders,<br />

who went to Lourdes in between<br />

kidney transplant surgeries due to a<br />

genetic disease. “But it’s such a boost<br />

Massgoers revere the brand-new statue of<br />

Our Lady of Lourdes procured especially<br />

for this year’s World Day of the Sick Mass. |<br />


to your spiritual life. To experience<br />

that and to feel God’s love in so many<br />

ways.<br />

“They just showered you with love<br />

and you knew that that love was God<br />

working through them. <strong>No</strong>w being in<br />

the Order as a Dame of Malta, I get<br />

to now be the one that allows God to<br />

work through me and now share that<br />

love with those that we take on the<br />

trip.”<br />

As someone who spent his life serving<br />

the sick and the suffering — and<br />

who is now the recipient of such care<br />

after his wife died in 2021 — Condon,<br />

dressed during the Mass in his Order<br />

of Malta uniform, appreciates even<br />

more the organization’s mission to aid<br />

those who are ill or debilitated.<br />

“You can tell when you go to a hospital,<br />

you can tell that the person taking<br />

care of you is because it’s a job,” Condon<br />

said. “When you go someplace<br />

like Lourdes where the person is there<br />

because they want to be involved and<br />

want to take care of you, you can feel<br />

the love.”<br />

Mike Cisneros is the associate editor<br />

of <strong>Angelus</strong>.<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 19


Meet this year’s Archbishop’s Awards honorees<br />


From left: Delia Wilson-Johnson, Daniel K. Walker,<br />

Thomas J. Blumenthal, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Lew<br />

and Lisa Horne, Clare and Jim Gurbach.<br />

Two married couples and three<br />

individuals with long records<br />

of committed service will be<br />

honored at the recently renamed<br />

“Archbishop’s Awards” dinner at the<br />

Beverly Hilton Feb. 24.<br />

Previously known as the Cardinal’s<br />

Awards, the black-tie gala dinner is a<br />

34-year-old tradition in the Archdiocese<br />

of Los Angeles that also serves<br />

as a fundraiser for charitable causes.<br />

Proceeds from this year’s dinner will<br />

go to five Catholic schools with early<br />

childhood programs, one in each of<br />

the archdiocese’s five pastoral regions,<br />

as well as to the St. Sebastian Sports<br />

Project, which supports inner-city<br />

students participating in sports.<br />

Here’s a quick look at this year’s<br />

honorees:<br />

Thomas J. Blumenthal is the president<br />

and CEO of the iconic Beverly<br />

Hills jewelry store GEARYS. A convert<br />

from Judaism, Blumenthal is a believer<br />

in finding ways to honor those<br />

with vocations to religious life, as well<br />

as helping women embrace leadership<br />

roles. He is a board member at St.<br />

John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Mount<br />

Saint Mary’s University in LA, and<br />

Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School<br />

of Theology.<br />

“I see Tom celebrating his faith as<br />

the pillar of everything he does for<br />

the community,” said Msgr. Kevin<br />

Kostelnik, who baptized Blumenthal<br />

20 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

and his parents when they entered the<br />

Catholic Church in 2008. “His gift<br />

of inclusivity is calling people of all<br />

faiths and walks of life to be leaders.”<br />

Thomas said he sees his support for<br />

vocations as a way of paying it forward.<br />

“It’s important to me to help them<br />

because those coming into this will<br />

be our spiritual directors of the future,<br />

and it’s natural to honor those who<br />

have served us so well in the past …<br />

they are a great example of those who<br />

come before them.”<br />

Lew and Lisa Horne know a thing or<br />

two about being community leaders.<br />

For years, Lisa has led a weekly<br />

rosary group for friends to pray for<br />

their children’s path toward heaven.<br />

A Dame of the Sovereign Military<br />

Order of Malta, she has found her<br />

faith strengthened during the order’s<br />

annual trips to Lourdes. After their<br />

daughter Christina was diagnosed<br />

with multiple sclerosis (MS) soon<br />

after graduating from USC, they knew<br />

what to do.<br />

“Taking her to Lourdes as well was<br />

an important part of the healing<br />

process … I wanted to give her that<br />

faith moment,” Lisa said. The Hornes<br />

have funded research for MS and are<br />

proud to share that Christina and her<br />

husband, Dane, recently celebrated<br />

the birth of a son.<br />

Lew is the board vice chair for<br />

Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters,<br />

a member of the Caruso Catholic<br />

Center Advisory Board, and a board<br />

member and past chair at the Los<br />

Angeles County Economic Development<br />

Corporation. He also serves as<br />

co-chair of the Central City Association<br />

Homelessness Initiative, a responsibility<br />

borne out of a family connection:<br />

He lost his brother to life on the<br />

streets in a homeless encampment.<br />

In May 20<strong>23</strong>, Lew was honored at<br />

the Champions for Youth Gala by<br />

Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, an<br />

honor that resonates strongly with<br />

him: He began sponsoring a little<br />

brother named Eddie 13 years ago.<br />

Delia Wilson-Johnson has been an<br />

influential voice and inspirational<br />

example of compassion, prayer, and<br />

change in South Los Angeles for<br />

decades.<br />

A Compton resident and parishioner<br />

at St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church in<br />

Watts, Delia’s knowledge and expertise<br />

have benefited numerous archdiocesan<br />

outreach programs, including<br />

the African American Catholic<br />

Center for Evangelization and the<br />

Anti-Racism Task Force. She is also a<br />

member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the<br />

Knights of Peter Claver, which focuses<br />

on portraying higher principles of<br />

Christian womanhood and promoting<br />

friendship, unity, and Christian<br />

charity.<br />

But her most rewarding role these<br />

days, she said, is facilitating the Rite of<br />

Christian Initiation of Adults: “Every<br />

conversation I have with those in formation<br />

helps me grow in my faith.”<br />

Her former pastor at St. Lawrence,<br />

Bishop Matthew Elshoff, described<br />

Delia as a force of nature.<br />

“She proclaims the word ‘evangelization’<br />

with an exclamation point,”<br />

said Bishop Elshoff. “On top of that<br />

is an incredible faith where she will<br />

always assure people the Holy Spirit is<br />

present and will help.”<br />

Daniel K. Walker is the fourth-generation<br />

leader of Farmers & Merchants<br />

Bank, which his great-grandfather<br />

C.J. Walker started in Long<br />

Beach in 1907. <strong>No</strong>w the executive<br />

chairman of the board, he believes in<br />

modeling the bank’s five basic pillars:<br />

honesty, integrity, the home, the<br />

church, and service above self.<br />

“Our bank is God’s blessing,” Daniel<br />

said. “As I have been getting closer to<br />

Catholic organizations … I have told<br />

them clearly: My involvement with<br />

you is to allow you the opportunity to<br />

transform individuals in need of faith.<br />

If we don’t accomplish that goal, we<br />

are not following what the Bible is<br />

teaching us.”<br />

When the Archdiocese of LA decided<br />

during the COVID-19 pandemic<br />

that it needed the support of the<br />

government’s Paycheck Protection<br />

Program (PPP), the bank made more<br />

than 350 PPP loans totaling $50<br />

million available to the archdiocese.<br />

More than 66,000 Catholic school<br />

students benefited from keeping<br />

their teachers, with some 5,400 jobs<br />

retained.<br />

In the 1950s, the bank assisted<br />

Rev. Robert Schuller when he built<br />

a church that became the famous<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

Crystal Cathedral. Six decades later,<br />

Walker and Tiber helped orchestrate<br />

funding so that the Diocese of Orange<br />

could purchase the same building to<br />

serve as its new cathedral.<br />

“Dan has always been in a servant<br />

leadership mindset,” said F&M<br />

Executive Vice President Kevin Tiber.<br />

“He has identified F&M Bank as an<br />

unapologetically Christian business.”<br />

Clare and Jim Gurbach saw firsthand<br />

the inequities when the oldest<br />

of their three daughters was playing<br />

volleyball at American Martyrs Catholic<br />

School: The opposing teams played<br />

with makeshift uniforms, lacked equipment,<br />

and had volunteer coaches.<br />

So in 2009, they helped found the<br />

Saint Sebastian Sports Project, named<br />

after the patron saint of sports and<br />

athletes. Its mission: to provide every<br />

child, regardless of family income,<br />

the chance to learn, grow, and share<br />

in the joy of participating in a school<br />

sports team.<br />

The project was launched with four<br />

schools in the Archdiocese of Los<br />

Angeles and a few thousand dollars<br />

that had been donated as seed money.<br />

Since then, more than 60 schools<br />

have joined, hundreds of thousands of<br />

dollars have impacted thousands more<br />

children, and the quality of coaches,<br />

referees, and involved parents has<br />

made a noticeable difference.<br />

With Clare as its executive director<br />

and Jim as the “do-whatever-is-needed”<br />

man, the Gurbachs have created<br />

a template to show Catholic schools<br />

how to overcome obstacles, including<br />

a lack of equipment, uniforms, or<br />

coaching. Their work has resulted<br />

in dramatic increases in children’s<br />

school attendance, confidence, teamwork,<br />

and academic achievement.<br />

“The Holy Spirit really tapped us on<br />

the shoulder when we saw a disparity<br />

in resources, and our pastor had<br />

always instilled in us to act on things<br />

we are passionate about,” said Clare,<br />

referring to American Martyrs pastor<br />

Msgr. John Barry.<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong> contributor Tom Hoffarth<br />

contributed to this story.<br />

To learn more about the Archbishop’s<br />

Awards and this year’s honorees, visit<br />

CardinalsAwardsDinner.org<br />

22 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>23</strong>

A study in contrasts<br />

When it comes to repressive Communist regimes, why is the Vatican’s<br />

diplomatic approach to China and Nicaragua so different?<br />


A demonstrator holds a crucifix during a protest<br />

against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s<br />

government in Managua May 15, 2018. | OSV/<br />


ROME — Imagine that two different<br />

governments are engaged in<br />

crackdowns against the Catholic<br />

Church, including putting priests and<br />

bishops in jail, limiting or even expelling<br />

religious orders, and subjecting<br />

Catholic organizations of all stripes to<br />

tight vigilance and control.<br />

In the abstract, one might think that<br />

since the offenses are similar, the Vatican<br />

response would be the same, too.<br />

Yet the reactions of Pope Francis and<br />

his advisers to Nicaragua and China<br />

reveal contrast rather than continuity.<br />

With Nicaragua, the Vatican’s criticism<br />

has been clear, constant, and<br />

increasingly acerbic; when it comes to<br />

China, such pushback has been conspicuous<br />

mostly by its absence.<br />

In the end, the explanation for this<br />

contrast probably lies not in moral analysis<br />

but geopolitics: China is a superpower<br />

and Nicaragua isn’t. Bluntly put,<br />

Francis needs to stay in Beijing’s good<br />

graces far more than Managua’s.<br />

Pope Francis has spoken out on Nicaragua<br />

several times this year. On New<br />

Year’s Day, he prayed for Nicaragua,<br />

“where bishops and priests have been<br />

deprived of their freedom,” assured the<br />

families and friends of those imprisoned<br />

of his closeness and prayer, and<br />

voiced hope “that the path of dialogue<br />

will always be sought to overcome<br />

difficulties.”<br />

A week later, in an annual speech to<br />

diplomats, he said the situation in the<br />

country “remains troubling: a protracted<br />

crisis with painful consequences for<br />

Nicaraguan society as a whole, and in<br />

particular for the Catholic Church.”<br />

“The Holy See continues to encourage<br />

a respectful diplomatic dialogue for<br />

the benefit of Catholics and the entire<br />

population,” he said. Shortly after, Bishop<br />

Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who<br />

had spent more than a year in prison,<br />

and 18 others were released from prison<br />

and exiled to Rome, where they were<br />

welcomed personally by Vatican Secretary<br />

of State Pietro Parolin as official<br />

guests of the Holy See.<br />

When it comes to China, on the other<br />

hand, Francis and his aides have been<br />

much quieter. <strong>No</strong>thing was said when<br />

pro-democracy protests erupted and<br />

were quickly quashed in Hong Kong<br />

between 2019 and 2020; when a new<br />

national security law was imposed in<br />

the city which was used to arrest and<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

charge several high-profile activists, including<br />

several prominent Catholics; or<br />

when Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired<br />

bishop of Hong Kong, was arrested and<br />

convicted by a Hong Kong court with<br />

several others in 2022 for their pro-democracy<br />

advocacy.<br />

The Vatican barely let out a whisper<br />

last year when Chinese authorities<br />

repeatedly violated the terms of the<br />

2018 provisional agreement between<br />

China and the Holy See on episcopal<br />

appointments.<br />

To the consternation of many, the<br />

terms of that agreement remain secret,<br />

prompting criticism that it has induced<br />

the Vatican to remain mute on China’s<br />

record on human rights and religious<br />

freedom.<br />

Last spring, the Vatican simply issued<br />

brief statements voicing concern after<br />

China made several unilateral transfers<br />

of bishops without Rome’s knowledge<br />

or consent, including the <strong>No</strong>vember<br />

2022 transfer of Bishop Pen Weizhao<br />

to the Diocese of Jiangxi and the April<br />

20<strong>23</strong> transfer of Bishop Shen Bin to<br />

Shanghai.<br />

Rather than condemning such blatant<br />

violations of their agreement, Vatican<br />

officials have instead used these transfers<br />

to push forward efforts to strengthen<br />

ties.<br />

In the case of the unauthorized transfer<br />

of Shen Bin to Shanghai on April<br />

4, 20<strong>23</strong>, the pope’s approval was only<br />

announced three months later. That<br />

announcement was accompanied by an<br />

interview published by Vatican <strong>News</strong>,<br />

the Holy See’s official information platform,<br />

in which Parolin expressed hope<br />

that a resident papal representative to<br />

Beijing could soon be named.<br />

Francis also offered a direct friendly<br />

greeting to the “noble Chinese people”<br />

during his final Mass in Mongolia last<br />

summer, and he also recently held a<br />

meeting with a delegation from the National<br />

Federation Italy-China in honor<br />

of the Chinese New Year.<br />

With the 2018 provisional agreement<br />

up for renewal for a third time this fall,<br />

it appears there is an effort to accelerate<br />

the move toward strengthened ties, with<br />

more bishops being named in the span<br />

of one week at the end of last month<br />

than have been named for the entire<br />

duration of the 2018 agreement thus far.<br />

Last month, the Vatican announced<br />

the suppression of the Apostolic Prefecture<br />

of Yiduxian in China and the<br />

establishment of the Diocese of Weifang,<br />

marking the first formal creation<br />

of a new diocese by the Holy See in<br />

China since the Communist revolution<br />

in 1949.<br />

The Jan. 29 Vatican statement said<br />

the decision to replace the Yiduxian<br />

prefecture was made on April 20, 20<strong>23</strong><br />

— notably, in the interim between the<br />

unauthorized transfer of Shen Bin and<br />

the pope’s acceptance of that move<br />

— and that at the same time, Bishop<br />

Anthony Sun Wenjun, 53, had been<br />

appointed to lead the diocese.<br />

Days before, on Jan. 25, the Vatican<br />

announced the ordination of a new<br />

bishop for the Diocese of Zhengzou,<br />

who it said had been appointed by the<br />

pope on Dec. 16, 20<strong>23</strong>, “in the framework<br />

of the Provisional Agreement<br />

between the Holy See and the People’s<br />

Republic of China.”<br />

Then again on Jan. 31, the Vatican<br />

announced a third episcopal appointment<br />

in China, revealing that Bishop<br />

Pietro Wu Yishun, named bishop of the<br />

Apostolic Prefecture of Shaowu, Minbei,<br />

in the province of Fujian on Dec.<br />

16, 20<strong>23</strong>, had been ordained a bishop<br />

earlier that day.<br />

The most important takeaway from<br />

this slew of appointments — together<br />

with last year’s appointment of a resident<br />

papal representative to Vietnam<br />

— is that the Vatican is eager for diplomatic<br />

progress in the Far East.<br />

While the pope’s words on Nicaragua<br />

resounded in news headlines, his<br />

actions on China have also sent a clear<br />

message about his intentions and priorities,<br />

and as the old adage goes, actions<br />

often speak louder than words.<br />

Elise Ann Allen is a senior correspondent<br />

for Crux in Rome, covering the<br />

Vatican and the global Church.<br />

In this file photo, China’s flag is seen as Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s<br />

Square at the Vatican June 15, 2016. | CNS/PAUL HARING<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 25



How I found ‘real work’<br />

If there is one thing written into the<br />

reality of our human experience, it<br />

is the necessity for work.<br />

On this earth, if man is to have a<br />

shelter, he’ll have to put up a roof. If<br />

he’s to eat, he’ll have to farm or hunt.<br />

If he doesn’t want to freeze, he’ll have<br />

to build a fire. There is no living without<br />

sweating, no existence without<br />

effort. This is actually an excellent<br />

thing, because it’s hard to imagine<br />

anything more spiritually and morally<br />

unhealthy than an idle life, or one<br />

devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. We<br />

are not built for that, but for the satisfaction<br />

of pulling order out of chaos,<br />

and of seeing our plans give fruit.<br />

We can overwork, however, and that<br />


can have disastrous consequences.<br />

When my third child was 11 months<br />

old, I had a nervous breakdown. One<br />

early morning I went to work at the<br />

small community hospital where I<br />

was a radiologist. I had left my chubby<br />

baby in his sleep-damp pajamas sitting<br />

in the highchair, deliciously babbling<br />

and laughing. The kindergartner and<br />

the preschooler were cheerfully eating<br />

their cereal, half-dressed and uncombed.<br />

Trading that bright kitchen<br />

for my lonely dark room in the cold<br />

hospital with its nauseating smell of<br />

disinfectant was too much for me. I<br />

put my head on my desk and wept.<br />

I cried for days after that, entirely at<br />

sea about the arrangements of my life.<br />

I had decided early on to be a<br />

doctor, filled with enthusiasm for<br />

what I believe is one of the noblest<br />

of vocations. But I married a fellow<br />

student in my third year of medical<br />

school and our first baby was born<br />

nine months later. I went straight into<br />

residency, choosing radiology for its<br />

relatively easy training period. It might<br />

have been easy, if I didn’t have a baby<br />

and then another. Our third was born<br />

during my last year and I went straight<br />

to work at a hospital as soon as I was<br />

done. I aimed to “have it all.”<br />

I was miserable at the hospital. All<br />

those years of study and extreme<br />

effort, the longing for the children,<br />

which was always paining me, all to<br />

end up sitting in front of a computer<br />

interpreting images and speaking into<br />

a recorder nine hours a day. I have to<br />

confess, with shame, that I was horrid<br />

to those around me — short-tempered,<br />

impatient, quick to complain<br />

and criticize. I kept up my professionalism<br />

as far as my patients and my<br />

radiology work, but I was bitter and<br />

made my poor co-workers pay for it.<br />

It was during that time that a friend<br />

invited me to an Opus Dei retreat.<br />

She had given me a prayer card of its<br />

founder, St. Josemaría Escrivá, which<br />

described Opus Dei as a “way of<br />

sanctification in daily work and in the<br />

fulfillment of the Christian’s ordinary<br />

duties.” You can see why I was drawn<br />

to “the Work.”<br />

There I was, walking a dark path in<br />

which my ordinary duties were taking<br />

me straight to hell, not heaven. I knew<br />

I was all wrong, and here was hope<br />

— that I could learn to be a light to<br />

others, even in difficult circumstances,<br />

and that my work, if not pleasant<br />

in itself, could be made beautiful by<br />

being offered to God as a prayer.<br />

26 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a mother of five<br />

who practices radiology in the Miami area.<br />

I found great comfort in my new<br />

hope and I persevered, helped on by<br />

lovely quotes like this one from the<br />

saint: “The work of each one of us,<br />

the activities that take up our time<br />

and energy, must be an offering worthy<br />

of our Creator. It must be operatio<br />

Dei, a work of God that is done for<br />

God: in short, a task that is complete<br />

and faultless.” And: “Professional work<br />

is also an apostolate, an opportunity<br />

to give ourselves to others, to reveal<br />

Christ to them and lead to God the<br />

Father.” My attitude improved and<br />

I found strength to be cheerful and<br />

patient.<br />

However, I could not salvage a situation<br />

which was inherently unbalanced.<br />

I was needlessly neglecting my<br />

family, in short, and much of my unhappiness<br />

was born of guilt and from a<br />

constant yearning to be with them.<br />

After a few days of weeping I put in<br />

my resignation, with the full support<br />

of my husband. Perhaps it didn’t make<br />

much sense from a purely material<br />

perspective, but it made perfect sense<br />

in every other way. I entered the prettiest<br />

time of my life, so far, treasuring<br />

every moment with my children<br />

because of all the moments I had<br />

missed. And we went on to have two<br />

more that would not have been ours if<br />

I had stayed at the hospital.<br />

Later on, I went back to work part<br />

time, and from home. I’ve been very<br />

fortunate to find professional fulfillment<br />

and also to live fully the joy of<br />

home, children, and husband. I thank<br />

God for this. I also thank him for the<br />

hard lessons I learned, and even for<br />

my nervous breakdown. The real work<br />

of sanctification is being done all the<br />

time by him, of course. We just have<br />

to be attentive, pray, and follow where<br />

he leads.<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 27


MOTHER<br />


‘EMPIRE OF<br />

HOPE’<br />

The first feature film about America’s<br />

immigrant saint hits all the right notes.<br />

Cristiana Dell’Anna in<br />

“Cabrini.” | IMDB<br />


Francesca Cabrini was born in Italy<br />

in 1850. After being rejected<br />

by three religious orders because<br />

of her “weak constitution,” she founded<br />

her own missionary congregation<br />

in Codogno, Italy. At the time, it was<br />

the only missionary order comprised<br />

solely of women.<br />

In 1889, she and six of her Missionary<br />

Sisters set off for New York City.<br />

Over the course of 34 years she established<br />

an astonishing 67 hospitals,<br />

orphanages, and schools, mostly for<br />

Italian immigrants. She was canonized<br />

in 1946 by Pope Pius XII — the<br />

first American citizen to be named a<br />

saint — and was proclaimed patron<br />

saint of all immigrants.<br />

The first biopic ever dedicated to<br />

the life of Mother Cabrini premiers<br />

in theaters on March 8, coinciding<br />

with International Women’s Day. It is<br />

brought to us from the director (Alejandro<br />

Monteverde), producers, and<br />

writers of “Sound of Freedom,” the<br />

20<strong>23</strong> independent movie that grossed<br />

over $240 million worldwide.<br />

With strong writing and directing,<br />

the film succeeds in depicting Cabrini<br />

— played by Italian actress Cristiana<br />

Dell’Anna — as a truly great woman<br />

in American history, one whose life<br />

and spirituality has plenty to say to the<br />

Catholic Church in the United States<br />

today.<br />

“Cabrini” centers around the very<br />

beginning of her mission in New York<br />

City at the end of the 19th century,<br />

when the condition of Italian immigrants<br />

in most American cities was<br />

dire. The Italian neighborhood of<br />

Five Points in Lower Manhattan,<br />

where Cabrini established her first<br />

house, was plagued by disease and<br />

perhaps the highest murder rate<br />

recorded anywhere.<br />

Most Italians lived in utter poverty<br />

and were denied basic rights, including<br />

access to hospital care. They<br />

were often the victims of racism and<br />

discrimination, called slurs like “dago”<br />

and “Guinea pigs.”<br />

It was here that Cabrini found<br />

herself. And thankfully, “Cabrini”<br />

does not try to conceal its subject’s<br />

weakness.<br />

As a child, Cabrini almost drowned,<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

leaving her with serious lung damage<br />

that should have left her bedridden for<br />

the rest of her life. In one scene, we<br />

see her collapse from exhaustion a few<br />

days into her mission. A doctor gives<br />

her two, maximum three years to live.<br />

In emphasizing Cabrini’s human<br />

shortcomings and weakness, the film<br />

presents a saint who didn’t accomplish<br />

great things because she was endowed<br />

with extraordinary willpower or unusual<br />

talents. Rather, we meet a woman<br />

who was convinced from the start<br />

that her mission, humanly speaking,<br />

was impossible. That she was bound<br />

to fail. Her success was based on her<br />

complete and utter trust in God.<br />

In other words, it was precisely her<br />

weakness that made her more suitable<br />

for her mission.<br />

As the movie shows, that trust led<br />

her to aim for the impossible. “The<br />

world is too small for what I intend to<br />

do,” she tells Pope Leo XIII (played by<br />

legendary Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini)<br />

in an early scene. This from a<br />

woman who was not supposed to leave<br />

her bed for the rest of her life!<br />

Her drowning incident left her with<br />

a deep-seated terror of water, but this<br />

did not prevent her from crossing the<br />

Atlantic by boat some 30 times. In one<br />

scene, she quotes St. Paul: “I can do<br />

all things through him who strengthens<br />

me.”<br />

“Do you want to be king?” an astonished<br />

Pope Leo asks her at the end of<br />

the movie. “Yes,” she replies, “I want<br />

to build an empire of hope.”<br />

Cabrini invites us to do something<br />

strange, even radical: to rejoice in our<br />

weaknesses, our laziness, our lack of<br />

courage, our lack of natural talents<br />

because they make us more, not less,<br />

apt for the mission that God is entrusting<br />

us.<br />

The second part of the film follows<br />

Cabrini’s struggles in New York City,<br />

where the local church and the mayor<br />

are opposed to her work. We see the<br />

saint overcome impossible odds to<br />

establish an orphanage, a house, and<br />

then a hospital.<br />

Two other aspects of this saint’s<br />

character emerge in this part of the<br />

film. First, her absolute trust in divine<br />

providence. “Begin the mission and<br />

the means will come,” she repeats in<br />

several scenes.<br />

The second is the insistence on freedom<br />

and love. Her missionary work<br />

consisted in presenting children with<br />

love, without asking them to change.<br />

“The wounds the children bear,” she<br />

says in one of the movie’s scenes,<br />

“are only healed through love, and<br />

through an education of the heart.”<br />

Cabrini is often presented as a “social<br />

saint.” But the primary source of her<br />

vocation was the immersion in the<br />

tangible experience of the love of<br />

God.<br />

“Let all your affections, O daughters,<br />

be concentrated in this beautiful<br />

Heart, and you will always and truly<br />

be happy,” she wrote to her sisters during<br />

one of her transatlantic voyages.<br />

“But if, on the other hand, some<br />

private affection either to you or to<br />

creatures binds you, you will always<br />

have some annoyance, some hours of<br />

tedium and melancholy. … Put on<br />

your wings, I pray you.”<br />

Missionary work was a natural<br />

consequence, almost a reflex, of this<br />

immersion in the love of God.<br />

“We must from time to time dive<br />

into God, immerse ourselves in the<br />

salutary water of his grace and loving<br />

kindness, and then fly, that is, work<br />

with much vigor.”<br />

“Cabrini” offers viewers a refreshing<br />

opportunity to think about the true<br />

meaning of our lives, the love of God,<br />

and the mission that he’s entrusted to<br />

those who are baptized — one that<br />

surpasses our strengths. The key to<br />

this mission, Cabrini’s life suggests, is<br />

to have a tangible, concrete experience<br />

of his love.<br />

Cabrini says it best in the film: “You<br />

need to have the courage to be what<br />

God wants you to be.”<br />

Stefano Rebeggiani is an assistant<br />

professor of Classics at the University<br />

of Southern California.<br />

<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 29



What is a man?<br />

Allen King Sr. with the author<br />

and her brother Joe, circa 1958. |<br />


Culturally we’ve been pondering<br />

the question: What is a<br />

woman? Maybe it’s time to ask:<br />

What is a man?<br />

My father — a bricklayer with eight<br />

kids — saw the world as a place of<br />

mystery and beauty, but that things<br />

could go so consistently, abysmally<br />

wrong gnawed at him.<br />

“Doesn’t that get my goat!” he’d<br />

rail in the parking lots of grocery<br />

stores, spotting a cart left by a careless<br />

shopper. “If that thing ever got rolling,<br />

it could pick up momentum, barrel<br />

right into a 3- or 4-year-old kid…” He<br />

shook his head, leaving us to imagine<br />

the twitching limbs, the tiny skull<br />

bleeding onto the asphalt.<br />

What he was really thinking, I knew,<br />

was that the kid would have to be<br />

brought to the doctor — and doctors<br />

cost money.<br />

We had supper together every<br />

night. Around the dining room table<br />

we bonded, and made fun of one<br />

another, and endlessly bickered.<br />

Dad meanwhile totted up imaginary<br />

figures in the air, calculating the cost<br />

of a replacement window for the one<br />

we’d broken playing baseball (again),<br />

new winter jackets for the boys, piano<br />

lessons.<br />

Milk in those days was delivered by<br />

Mr. Gilman of Runnymede Farms,<br />

and came in glass bottles. One night<br />

we were eating supper and, as happened<br />

frequently, drained the gallon.<br />

“I’ll get some more,” my younger<br />

brother Ross offered, and made for the<br />

kitchen. Right away, dad started in.<br />

“Don’t drop the milk. For Crimey’s<br />

sake, don’t drop the milk, it’s up to a<br />

dollar-thirty. Whatever you do, don’t<br />

drop the milk.”<br />

Almost inevitably, just as Ross was<br />

about to reach the table, he dropped<br />

the milk. Glass shattered. Milk<br />

splashed, ran in runnels, and pooled<br />

on the floor.<br />

My father wasn’t violent, but for a<br />

second we stopped breathing and<br />

looked instinctively to the head of<br />

the table. A stricken, defeated look<br />

crossed his face, and then he bent<br />

over double and silently buried his<br />

head in his hands.<br />

Had dad lost it for good? Had we<br />

finally pushed him over the brink?<br />

What if he pushed back his chair,<br />

put on his brown Carhartt jacket that<br />

smelled of White Owl cigars and Old<br />

Spice, climbed into his pickup, and<br />

left? Who would take us out in the<br />

boat to check the banged-up lobster<br />

traps? Who would bake bread on<br />

weekends, fuss over the tomato plants,<br />

and sit out on the breezeway with his<br />

buddies drinking Bud on Saturday<br />

afternoons and listening to the Red<br />

Sox?<br />

Who would go around the house<br />

singing “How Great Thou Art” in<br />

that crackpot fake tenor? Who would<br />

recite Housman’s “A Shropshire Lad”<br />

with what sounded suspiciously like a<br />

catch in his throat?<br />

Mom couldn’t leave us. But what if<br />

daddy, fount of all fun, all jokes, all<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Heather King is an award-winning<br />

author, speaker, and workshop leader.<br />

food, shelter, clothing, security, order,<br />

warmth, bolted?<br />

Was he crying? Had we made dad<br />

cry?<br />

At last he straightened up. His<br />

beat-up hands dropped to his knees.<br />

His face, unthinkably, was wet with<br />

tears, and so red we thought he might<br />

have had a heart attack. He was still<br />

trembling. He was gasping. But finally<br />

we realized he wasn’t crying. He was<br />

laughing.<br />

“Janet, get me a napkin,” he choked<br />

out, and moved to high-five Ross.<br />

“Don’t spill … HANH HAH … don’t<br />

drop … Lindy Gilman’s kids will<br />

eat even if we’re in the poorhouse!”<br />

… but he was laughing so hard he<br />

couldn’t go on.<br />

Suddenly we sprang into action.<br />

One of us ran for rags. Someone else<br />

started picking out the biggest chunks<br />

of glass. Someone, maybe me, passed<br />

behind the back of dad’s chair and<br />

patted his thinning hair.<br />

But in a way, I am still sitting at that<br />

table with my father: head in hands,<br />

face hidden, present physically, yet a<br />

million miles away.<br />

Sitting with him while he perhaps<br />

contemplated the years stretching<br />

behind and ahead: of waking in the<br />

dark, of driving 40, 60, 90 miles to his<br />

job laying bricks, of standing all day<br />

in bitter cold or scorching heat, of<br />

constant anxiety, constant frustration,<br />

constant fatigue.<br />

Sitting with him knowing that when<br />

he opened his eyes his family —<br />

whose entire purpose, it sometimes<br />

must have seemed, was to break his<br />

heart — was going to be looking back<br />

at him: waiting, bereft, refusing to<br />

leave.<br />

Sitting with him while all that was<br />

good and kind and decent in him, and<br />

all that was fearful and weak and in<br />

pain had perhaps met, and clashed,<br />

and in some place that was unknown<br />

to us, where we could not follow, on<br />

some terrible battlefield in which our<br />

fates hung in the balance, he had<br />

chosen us over himself; had chosen<br />

the spark of life that is humor over<br />

despair, over death.<br />

In a way, that is who I write to. My<br />

father, in that moment before he<br />

lifted his head — and stayed.<br />

For weeks, we’d be finding splinters<br />

of glass under the sewing table, the<br />

desk, the radiators. There would be<br />

more anxiety. There would be more<br />

imaginary — and several real — catastrophes.<br />

But for now, God was in<br />

his heaven and all was right with the<br />

world. Until the next broken bottle of<br />

milk, or window, or leg, or spirit, life<br />

could go on.<br />

Because dad had laughed. Daddy —<br />

our rock — had laughed.<br />

The author and her<br />

father in 1952. | COUR-<br />


<strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 31



Scott Hahn is founder of the<br />

St. Paul Center for Biblical<br />

Theology; stpaulcenter.com.<br />

The Lenten love of the martyrs<br />

We’re at the beginning of Lent, and it’s a good time<br />

for us to ask why? Why do we do it? And why does<br />

it last so long?!<br />

Well, we know there are biblical precedents. Jesus fasted<br />

for 40 days, and so did Moses,<br />

and so did Elijah. The 40 days<br />

reminds us of Israel’s 40 years<br />

in the wilderness and <strong>No</strong>ah’s 40<br />

days of rain.<br />

We know that the ancient<br />

Fathers at the Council of Nicaea<br />

(A.D. 325) recognized a 40-day<br />

fast. And there were 40-day fasts<br />

in Rome and Egypt long before<br />

that.<br />

But why? That’s what my kids<br />

used to ask when they were<br />

driving the conversation about<br />

bedtime back to first principles.<br />

And it’s not a bad thing for us<br />

grownups to do when we think<br />

about Lent.<br />

Why do we fast at all? Why<br />

does Lent last so long?<br />

The earliest Christian discussions<br />

are lost to history. But<br />

historians propose many possible<br />

reasons, and today I want to<br />

consider just one.<br />

Christians practiced long<br />

self-denial once a year because<br />

they were training themselves<br />

up for martyrdom. They were<br />

building up endurance because<br />

persecution was something real<br />

to them. It wasn’t always active,<br />

but the laws were still on the<br />

books, and the Church never<br />

knew when full enforcement<br />

might come back.<br />

Lent was the way Christians<br />

stayed ready — prepared to give<br />

themselves away as martyrs. In the persecutions of Decius<br />

and Diocletian, many failed the test. At the thought of pain,<br />

discomfort, and death, they renounced Jesus Christ. The<br />

“Angels Bring Food to Jesus in the Desert,” from a Mir-at al-quds of Father<br />

Jerome Xavier, 1549-1617, Spanish. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS<br />

Christians who witnessed this watched in horror. They desired<br />

never to do the same.<br />

It’s quite possible that the original Lent was only a week<br />

long. But by the fourth century Christians knew that they<br />

needed more than that.<br />

We do, too. We know it from<br />

history. But we also know it from<br />

experience. We know our sins.<br />

We know our weaknesses.<br />

The martyrs knew that if they<br />

made the effort to strengthen<br />

their will, God himself would<br />

make up for what they were<br />

lacking. Grace would build on<br />

nature, complete it, and elevate<br />

it.<br />

This was Lent, then, in the<br />

third century and at the beginning<br />

of the fourth. It was a time<br />

of self-denial, self-mastery, and<br />

self-possession. But such discipline<br />

was a means and not an<br />

end. It’s not about checking off<br />

the boxes. It’s not about toughing<br />

it out.<br />

It’s about love. We possess ourselves<br />

in order to give ourselves<br />

away in love — just as Jesus did<br />

on the cross, and just as Jesus<br />

does in the Mass.<br />

As I prepared this column, I noticed<br />

that its term of publication<br />

would begin on <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong> and<br />

end on March 7. It begins with<br />

the memorial of St. Polycarp<br />

and ends with Sts. Perpetua<br />

and Felicity, all martyrs of the<br />

early Church. Their stories were<br />

preserved by eyewitnesses who<br />

depicted the martyrs’ suffering<br />

in liturgical terms. It was a gift<br />

of self — body and blood. It was<br />

given freely in love. Its result was communion with Christ.<br />

That’s the meaning of Lent. We prepare ourselves for the<br />

most profound love with Jesus. Press on!<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>


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 />

Retrouvaille Marriage Retreat: Spanish. San Fernando.<br />

Retreat runs Feb. 16-18. Call Adolfo and Dora Rubio at<br />

818-367-4198 or Salvador and Maria Acosta at 626-934-<br />

7452 for more information or to register.<br />

Fish Fry. St. Clare Church, 19606 Calla Way, Canyon<br />

Country, 4:30-8 p.m. Runs every Friday in Lent. Includes<br />

two-three pieces of beer-battered cod, coleslaw, choice of<br />

side, or fish tacos with rice and beans. Dine in or take out.<br />

Cost: $15/person, two-piece dinner or two tacos, $16/person,<br />

three-piece dinner. Family pack available for $55. Call<br />

661-252-3353 or visit st-clare.org.<br />

Fish Fry — Knights of Columbus #4919. Nativity Church,<br />

1415 Engracia Ave., Torrance, 5-7 p.m. Runs every Friday in<br />

Lent. Baked or deep fried fish, baked potato or French fries,<br />

coleslaw, roll, and cake. Cost: $12/adults, $10/seniors, $7/<br />

children under 12. Indoor seating and takeout available.<br />

50/50 raffles as time permits.<br />


Lenten Retreat. St. James Church, 415 Vincent St., Redondo<br />

Beach, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Hosted by the Catholic Daughters<br />

of America Court of Our Lady of Victory, this free retreat<br />

led by Msgr. Timothy Nichols invites men and women to<br />

get their spiritual house in order before Easter. Includes<br />

Mass and complimentary continental breakfast. Theme:<br />

“On the Road with Jesus and Mary.” Call Mary Costello at<br />

310-316-0768 or email mmcostello1@verizon.net.<br />

“Don’t Get Robbed by Satan’s Scams” Conference. St.<br />

Didacus Church, 14325 Astoria St., Selma, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.<br />

Led by Father Bob Garon and Dominic Berardino. Topics<br />

include “Old Lies of the New Age” and “God’s Remedies<br />

for the Devil’s Poisons.” Mass and catered lunch included.<br />

Register at events.scrc.org, call 818-771-1361 or email<br />

spirit@scrc.org.<br />


Career Fair. Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 W. Slauson Ave.,<br />

Culver City, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Open positions in the Archdiocese<br />

of Los Angeles for embalmers, funeral service assistants,<br />

and more. Bring résumé for on-the-spot interviews.<br />

For more information, visit lacatholics.org/event/career-fair.<br />


Record Clearing Virtual Clinic for Veterans. 5-8 p.m. Legal<br />

team will help with traffic tickets, quality of life citations,<br />

and expungement of criminal convictions. Free clinic is<br />

open to all Southern California veterans. Registration<br />

required. Call 213-896-6537 or email inquiries-veterans@<br />

lacba.org.<br />

Amazed Bible Study. Visitation Church, 6581 W. 88th<br />

St., Los Angeles, 7-9 p.m. Ten-part video/lectio series on<br />

Eucharist: Discovering the Mass in the Bible. Series runs<br />

until May 8. Cost: $20/person. Visit visitationchurch-la.<br />

com/eucharisticrevival. Call 310-216-1145.<br />


Anniversary Mass for Bishop David O’Connell. San Gabriel<br />

Mission, 429 S. Junipero Serra Dr., 10 a.m. Celebrant:<br />

Archbishop José H. Gomez. Blessing of memorial exhibit to<br />

follow after Mass.<br />


Rite of Election. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555<br />

W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 3 p.m. for San Fernando and<br />

San Gabriel Pastoral Regions, or 6 p.m. for Our Lady of the<br />

Angels and San Pedro Pastoral Regions. Those seeking to<br />

be initiated this Easter Vigil are obligated to be elected by<br />

Archbishop José H. Gomez and participate in the Rite of<br />

Election. Email Leticia Perez at LPerez@la-archdiocese.org.<br />

Santa Barbara Pastoral Region Rite of Election. Our Lady<br />

of the Assumption Church, 435 Berkeley Ave, Claremont,<br />

2:30 p.m. or La Purisima Church, 213 W. Olive Ave., Lompoc,<br />

5 p.m. Those seeking to be initiated this Easter Vigil<br />

are obligated to be elected and participate in the Rite of<br />

Election. Email Leticia Perez at LPerez@la-archdiocese.org.<br />

Lenten Speaker Series: Mary Mother of God, Untier of<br />

Knots. St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care, 1911 Zonal<br />

Ave., Los Angeles, 4 p.m. Peace & Justice Mass, 5:30 -7 p.m.<br />

presentation, available in person or on Zoom. Sessions run<br />

on Sundays from Feb. 25 to March 24. Speakers include Dr.<br />

Megan McKenna, Dr. Michael Howard, and Sister <strong>No</strong>rma<br />

Pimentel, MJ. Visit stcamilluscenter.org/lent.<br />

■ FRIDAY, MARCH 1<br />

Life-Giving Wounds: A Healing Retreat for Adult Children<br />

of Divorced or Separated Parents. Mission San Luis<br />

Rey, 4050 Mission Ave., Oceanside. Retreat runs from 6<br />

p.m. on March 1 to 3 p.m. on March 3. Participants 18 and<br />

older are invited to move through the broken images of love<br />

in their parents’ relationship to their deepest origin and<br />

identity as God’s beloved. Co-sponsored by the Separated<br />

& Divorced Ministry. Cost: $375/single room, $325/<br />

double room, includes meals, lodging, and all materials.<br />

Partial scholarships available upon request; email jmonell@<br />

la-archdiocese.org. Visit rcbo.org/acod.<br />

Fish Fry. St. Margaret Mary Church, 25511 Eshelman<br />

Ave., Lomita, 5 p.m. Runs March 1, 8, and 15. Baked or<br />

beer-battered fried fish, baked potato, corn on the cob, and<br />

desserts. Spirits available for purchase. Discounts available<br />

for seniors and children.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 3<br />

Rite of Calling. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555<br />

W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 3 p.m. for San Fernando and<br />

San Gabriel Pastoral Regions, 6 p.m for Our Lady of the<br />

Angels and San Pedro Pastoral Regions. This rite is for those<br />

journeying through RCIA to complete Christian Initiation in<br />

the Church. Email Leticia Perez at LPerez@la-archdiocese.<br />

org.<br />

■ SUNDAY, MARCH 10<br />

St. Joseph’s Table. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church,<br />

<strong>23</strong><strong>23</strong>3 Lyons Ave., Newhall, 1-6 p.m. Hosted by the Italian<br />

Catholic Club of SCV, includes free plate of spaghetti and<br />

roll, other Italian foods for sale at minimal prices. Donated<br />

baked goods welcome. Call Anna Riggs at 661-645-7877<br />

for more information.<br />

■ TUESDAY, MARCH 12<br />

Memorial Mass. San Fernando Mission, 15151 San<br />

Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills, 11 a.m. Mass is<br />

virtual and not open to the public. Livestream available at<br />

CatholicCM.org or Facebook.com/lacatholics.<br />

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>February</strong> <strong>23</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 33

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