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placeholder December 15, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA

Dec. 17: Funeral Mass for Rev. Joseph Arong, OMI

Dec. 18: Reconciliation Liturgy, Catholic Community of Pleasanton

Dec. 19: Chancery Christmas celebration

      Priests' Christmas celebration

Dec. 20: Mass, West County Jail, Richmond

Dec. 24: 10 p.m. Vigil Mass, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland

Dec. 25: 10 a.m., Mass, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oaklande

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Lessons from Our Lady
In his homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, reminded churchgoers that the Immaculate Conception was about the conception of Mary's mother, St. Anne, and it refers to Mary in her mother's womb. When Mary was conceived, her soul was not scarred by original sin, the bishop said. Mary is the third person in history — Adam and Eve were the first two — to be born without original sin. A lesson to draw from this, he said, is that often we blame God for sin and evil in the world and ask, "Why didn't He stop that?" As noted in the first reading that day, Genesis tells the story of how sin entered the world. Once Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they spoiled it for everyone else, the bishop said. But just as sin entered the world via Adam and Eve, so grace comes through Mary, who is the new Eve and Jesus the new Adam.

Jan. 1 Holy Day

According to the Liturgical Calendar for the United States during 2015 (Year B), and following the particular norms from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God: Jan. 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation.

Immigration help

Catholic Charities of the East Bay has licensed and accredited legal services, access to educational materials, facilities for immigration workshops and can provide documents that help people establish residency. CCEB has legal representatives in Oakland, Richmond and Concord who can help after President Obama's Nov. 20 announcement of immigration reforms that will give temporary legal status to some 1.5 million California residents. For more information contact Catholic Charities at www.cceb.org or 510-768-3100.

Key things to know:

• Eligible immigrants will not be able to apply for several months so it is very important that they do not pay anyone now for applications or a "place in line." People need to be warned to avoid fraudulent notaries, and others who will come forward to defraud vulnerable people.

• While program specifics are being finalized, immigrants can determine whether they are eligible, gather documents that may be needed, and save for their application fees. Visit adminrelief.org for assistance, including materials in English and Spanish.
CCEB will partner with other organizations to offer two information sessions in East Oakland:

• Dec. 13, 11:30 a.m., St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church, 1410 100th Ave.

• Jan. 11, Noon, St. Jarlath Catholic Church, 2620 Pleasant St.e

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Holiday concert

Celebrate the season with the San Francisco Boys Chorus in a holiday concert at The Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland at 8 p.m. Dec. 20. Hear excerpts from Handel's Messiah including the Hallelujah Chorus and other holiday favorites. Tickets are on sale at sfbc.org/tickets; visit www.ctlcathedral.org/SFBCholiday for more information.

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Roman tradition
A firefighter places a wreath on a tall statue of Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Rome's firefighters have observed the tradition every year since 1857.
Paul Haring/cns

Christmas tree in
St. Peter's Square

The Christmas tree is positioned in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 4. The tree is an 82-foot white fir from the Calabria region in southern Italy.
Paul Haring/cns

Six new saints
Pilgrims from India hold color wheels before the start of the canonization Mass of six new saints celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 23. The new saints include Euphrasia Eluvathingal, an Indian Carmelite sister and member of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, and Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the Indian founder of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, a Syro-Malabar Catholic order.
Paul Haring/cns

Paul Haring/cns

Turkey visit

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople are pictured after delivering a blessing in Istanbul Nov. 30, during Pope Francis' Nov. 28-30 visit to Turkey. The general reception, outside of the pope's official meetings, lacked the usual enthusiastic crowds that greet him on his trips, no masses waving signs of welcome along his motorcade route or behind police barriers at the stops. Pope Francis, who seems to thrive on contact with the public, especially with the young, the aged and the infirm, seemed dispirited by the lack of it this time. Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim so even a brief experience of Christianity's marginality in that part of world makes it easier to understand why Patriarch Bartholomew is the papacy's best friend in the Orthodox Church and an eager participant in ecumenical dialogue.

Integrate divorced, gays

Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must consider various ways to integrate the divorced and civilly remarried in the life of the church — not merely allowing them to receive Communion, but letting them serve as eucharistic ministers and godparents — and to make it easier for Catholic families to accept their homosexual members. "Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration," the pope said.

Museums in 3-D

For those who have never been inside any of the Vatican Museums, seeing a documentary about them done with a 3-D effect on the big screen could be a real treat. "The Vatican Museums 3-D" begins a theatrical release on hundreds of screens around the country in December. Even for those lucky enough to have traveled to Rome, "The Vatican Museums" distills eight days of around-the-clock filming into 80 minutes showcasing some of the world's most treasured works of art, a tour no visitor could pull off singlehandedly.

Day against trafficking

The first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking has been announced for Feb. 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who eventually was freed and became a Canossian nun. The day is intended to raise awareness and to encourage reflection on "the violence and injustice that affect" the numerous victims of trafficking, according to a Nov. 25 press release from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

'Stigma' of autism

Pope Francis called for greater acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorders and their families to break down the "isolation" and "stigma" that burdens them. "Everyone should be committed to promoting acceptance, encounter and solidarity through concrete support and by encouraging renewed hope," the pope said Nov. 22 during a meeting with people with autism disorders and their families.

Catholic News Service

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