Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 22, 2010
World News in Brief
Oakland A's prospect trades in uniform for seminary
When top Oakland A's baseball prospect Grant Desme capped off a stellar minor league season by announcing his January retirement to join the priesthood, reporters across the country clamoured to ask him why.
The 23-year-old California native, who will enter St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado, Ca., this August, has explained his calling in numerous interviews.
"It's almost miraculous," he said. "God has definitely used this more than I could imagine."
And his story is certainly compelling, given that the outfielder had just enjoyed a phenomenal comeback year after injuries benched him for much of the 2008 season.
There was speculation that he'd be invited to big league spring training with the Oakland team, also known as the Athletics.
"But every time I prayed, I said 'Is there something more, God, than just baseball?'" Desme said. "Even after I had a wonderful season - better than I ever could have expected - there still wasn't a peace or really a sense of fulfillment," he said in an interview.
Despite - and because of - the glare of attention, Desme said he feels peace now. "It has reinforced my decision because God has worked so much good through one little decision," he said.
Now he said it will be nice to drop from the public eye when he enters the abbey, a monastic community of Norbertine priests. Desme was drawn to St. Michael's Abbey by its austere lifestyle and emphasis on liturgy and living in community. It will take nine to 10 years of study and formation before he can be ordained.
Religions see human suffering as mystery
The fact that human beings must endure illness, grow old and experience pain in body and spirit is a mystery that all the major religious seek to understand, said speakers at a Vatican conference. Representatives of various faiths who gathered at the Vatican Feb. 9 to discuss the nature of illness and the care of the sick also agreed that faith and spirituality help people find meaning in human suffering.
Rabbi Gianfranco Di Segni, a biologist and a professor at Rome's rabbinical college, said that in Jewish teaching the reason for suffering is never clear. "There are those who believe that it is the consequence of our actions and those who say our actions are not the cause. In any case, suffering brings on an examination of our conscience, and should be a stimulus to correct our life path by giving, by caring for the sick and doing good works. The point is, we don't understand the why of suffering, or the mystery of pain," he said.
JP2 brought dignity to all who suffer - Anderson
Pope John Paul II's humility and willingness to let the whole world watch his declining health gave dignity and meaning to suffering, said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. "John Paul suffered boldly before millions," Anderson said at a Vatican conference on health care Feb. 9. "He was willing to have the humility to do this before the world. Through this, John Paul showed exactly what human dignity is all about," he said. Anderson said Pope John Paul had preached the Gospel and evangelized "with every gift God had given him," including his acting and singing talents, his athletic abilities and his writing. "As life went on, we saw him communicate the Gospel using what he also called 'a gift,' that is we saw him use his own suffering," Anderson said.
Benedict greets start of Year of the Tiger
Pope Benedict welcomed the lunar new year and praised the spiritual and moral values of the Asian people who celebrate it. The new lunar Year of the Tiger began Feb. 14 with festivities from fireworks to colourful processions in numerous countries. "In various parts of Asia - I think of China and Vietnam, for example - and in many communities throughout the world, the lunar new year is celebrated today," the pope said. "I hope that all will maintain and build up the rich heritage of spiritual and moral values that are solidly rooted in the culture of these peoples."
Notre Dame sisters to close retirement home
Villa Marguerite, the Montreal retirement home for English-speaking sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame that doubles as a retreat centre, will close at the end of June. The spacious, treed property in suburban Montreal is up for sale. The 16 sisters living there will move closer to downtown. The decision to sell hinged on striking a balance between "providing the best care for our aging sisters and using our resources to advance the CND mission," Sister Maura McGrath told the Catholic Times of Montreal. McGrath said Villa Marguerite and its 15-acre property is too large for the small number of aged sisters. When the residence opened in 1981, 36 English-speaking CNDs moved in. Today, there are only half that number.
Catholics of all ages see moral values on decline
Although they are more likely to describe themselves as liberal, the youngest American Catholic adults believe almost as strongly as other generations that the nation's moral values are headed in the wrong direction. The millennial generation of Catholics, ages 18-29, also are more likely than those of Generation X (ages 30-44) or the baby-boom generation (ages 45-64) to say that commitment to marriage is not valued enough in this country. Eighty-two per cent of Catholic millennials said marital commitment is not valued enough, exceeded only by the 89 per cent of those over 65, who said so. Seventy-nine per cent of Generation X Catholics and 77 per cent of baby boomers agreed. Those were among the results of a survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and made public Feb. 11.
Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd make top 10 list of albums
The Vatican newspaper has come up with a "semi-serious" list of 10 essential rock and pop albums, including works by the Beatles, U2 and Pink Floyd. The list was offered in a tongue-in-cheek article Feb. 14. The "10 albums worth taking to a desert island" were: Revolver by the Beatles; If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby; The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd; Rumours by Fleetwood Mac; The Nightfly by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan; Thriller by Michael Jackson; Graceland by Paul Simon; Achtung Baby by U2; (What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis; and Supernatural by Carlos Santana.
Bishops oppose change to Mexican Constitution
Catholic leaders across Mexico expressed disappointment with the lower house of Congress' approval of a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine separation of Church and state. Statements issued by three archdioceses described the amendment as a setback for religious freedom in a country with a history of contentious Church-state relations. The statements described the change as an attempt to silence religious groups at a time when Mexican politicians are addressing issues such as abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.
Christianity is not a set of rules, says pope
Christianity is not a set of moral rules, but a path to a relationship with God, who is love, Pope Benedict told 190 seminarians studying for the Diocese of Rome. Christians are not so much called to obedience as to accepting God's love in Jesus and acting in a way that shows how God's love has transformed them, the pope said Feb. 12. When Jesus told his disciples they were not his servants, but his friends, he was highlighting the fact that they were not called to blind obedience of rules, but to a relationship in which his will would become their will.
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