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The faithful venerate the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the sanctuary after an annual Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. 

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was the celebrant.

The archbishop also blessed the image, which was carried into the cathedral by members of the Grupo Guadalupano, an organization of Mexican Americans. (Photo by Aaron Joseph)

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Luke Nugent, a student at St. Rita School in Hamden, takes part in the international initiative called Hour of Code on Dec. 11 at the school.

mo2 webFaith and Evangelization Congress attendees browse through materials in the hallways at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol on Nov. 15. (Photo by Maria G. O'Donnell)

BRISTOL – The Archdiocese of Hartford Office of Religious Education and Evangelization (OREE) presented its annual Faith and Evangelization Congress on Nov. 15 at St. Paul High School in Bristol. This year’s theme was titled “Making God Known: Sharing the Stories of Faith.”

20141222cnsbr7338 webPope Francis greets U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, patron of the Knights and Dames of Malta, during an audience to exchange Christmas greetings with members of the Roman Curia ll at the Vatican Dec. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' Christmas greeting to the Vatican bureaucracy this year was an extended warning against a host of spiritual ills to which he said Vatican officials are prone, including "spiritual Alzheimer's," "existential schizophrenia," publicity-seeking, the "terrorism of gossip" and even a poor sense of humor.

Shawnee award 4495 a webShawnee Baldwin (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

Shawnee Baldwin, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization, was honored with a regional leadership award Dec. 6 from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

20141216cnsph042 webMother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, speaks at a Dec. 16 Vatican press conference for release of the final report of a Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious. At right is Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The apostolic visitation of U.S. communities of religious women, though initially met with some resistance, ended up promoting a greater sense of unity in the church and helped the women become more aware of how God is working in their lives, said the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

"May the self-assessment and dialogue sparked by the apostolic visitation continue to bear abundant fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of religious institutes in fidelity to Christ, to the Church and to their founding charisms," said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, the prefect, at a Dec. 16 news conference at the Vatican.

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HAMDEN – Sacred Heart Academy students recently toured nearby Sacred Heart Manor to learn if a career in a construction-related field was right for them.

20141212cnsbr7179 webA man carries a large statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe during a celebration in her honor in Mexico City Dec. 10. (CNS photo/David Agren)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Preceded by a procession of flags from the nations of the Americas and the recitation of the rosary in Spanish, Pope Francis and thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Vatican.

coats webTwo boys are fitted with jackets at the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids distribution on Nov. 28 in New Haven

NEW HAVEN – As many headed out to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, hundreds of area children received a free and much-needed gift as the Knights of Columbus distributed new winter coats to children in need at seven sites throughout Connecticut on “Black Friday,” Nov. 28.

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demarco_halfIf we can answer one simple question correctly and carry out its logical implications, we can gain an understanding of ethics that is an outline for good behavior, joy and fulfillment for all human beings. The question is this: To whom does the mother’s milk belong?

The natural evidence indicates conclusively that the mother’s milk belongs to the baby she is breastfeeding. From the standpoint of its ingredients, the milk is ideally suited to the child’s biological needs. It provides proper nourishment and strengthens the child’s immune system, protecting him or her from infection and disease. The milk is of no special benefit to the mother. Psychologically, breast feeding fosters a loving bond with the mother and helps give the child both a sense of self as well as a sense of belonging. Nature has made it abundantly clear that mother’s milk is intended for the child and to be provided by the mother.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, combining insight with a touch of humor, once stated, "A pair of substantial mammary glands has the advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor’s brain in the art of compounding a nutritive fluid for infants." Nature does naturally and spontaneously what science cannot do deliberately and painstakingly. Can we say that breast milk is better than any udder milk?

The demonstrable fact that the milk belongs to the baby establishes the fact that a human being is not an isolated entity riveted to its own selfish needs. The mother is for the child, just as Adam, from whose side Eve was taken, is for his wife, and Christ on the Cross, from whose side gushed blood and water, is for all other human beings.

In other words, human beings are persons, which is to say, they have their own unique individualities, but also live and love in relation to other persons. A human is far more than a mere individual. The network that results, ultimately, from a series of interpersonal relationships is a good society of ethical people.

We can say, therefore, that the image of the mother giving milk to her infant serves as a prototype for all ethical human relationships. Ethics honors the nursing mother by recognizing that she sets in motion a series of interpersonal relationships. The father is needed to provide for his children something other than food. As theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar contends, mother and father must provide both a "hearth and a horizon." Hence, the fundamental role of marriage and the family comes into view. The family, then, becomes the fundamental unit of society. In this way, the milk of human kindness permeates society and nourishes all its inhabitants.

When St. Augustine said of the nursing Madonna that "[s]he gave milk to our bread," he was referring to the Eucharist and how it provides both corporeal as well as spiritual benefits for all human beings. The nursing mother, then, is a prototype for all ethical relationships insofar as she represents the fullness of personality, offering to others both bodily and spiritual nourishment.

It has been said that breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime. The truth of this statement lies in the fact that breastfeeding offers a powerful and long-lasting experience, as well as an icon, of what it means to be a person. And being a person, in the ethical sense, is to live in relation to others in a spirit of giving and receiving.

Ethics, as Pope John Paul II liked to say, is actually nothing more than "anthropological realism." What he meant by this, simply, is that we behave ethically when we are acting as real human beings. We may learn a great deal at our mother’s knee, but that learning process had its origin at our mother’s breast.

The mother’s breast is the one material reality that simulates the spiritual reality of love. Just as love grows by giving it away, mother’s milk replenishes itself to the degree that it, too, is given away. All other material things are depleted when given away. It is the glory of love and generosity that, as Christ said, will increase our lot a hundredfold.

Ethics need not be a difficult subject to grasp. All we need do is understand that a mother’s milk belongs not to her or to anyone other than her baby. Ethics, then, far from leading people into the morass of relativism or skepticism, is really baby simple.

 

Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell and Mater Ecclesiae College in Greenville, R.I.

 

Events Calendar

December 2014
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12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
The Knights of Columbus Museum’s 10th annual Christmas crèche exhibition, “Buon Natale: Crèches of Italy,” opened Dec. 1 and remains on view until Feb. 1 with [...]
Date :  December 22, 2014
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03:15 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
There will be a children's concert at 3 p.m. and children's Mass at 4 pm at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
04:00 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, United States
Masses will be celebrated at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at Holy Family Retreat Center. They [...]
05:30 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, United States
Masses will be celebrated at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at Holy Family Retreat Center. They [...]
11:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
A Sacred Sounds Concert for Christmas Eve, "Bach at the Cathedral," will be performed at 11 p.m. Dec. 24 [...]
11:59 PM
Mass will be clelebrated at midnight at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
Date :  December 24, 2014
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