St. Lucy, patron saint of eyes and of sight. Today is her feast day.

    Letter #127, 2022, Tuesday, December 13: Advent

December 13, 2022
    Feast of St. Lucy

    St. Lucy’s Prayer

    St. Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation — every corner of our day. Amen. —St. Lucy, who died in 304 A.D. in Syracuse, Sicily, is the patron saint of the blind, and of sight. She is often seen with the emblem of eyes on a cup or plate. In paintings, she is often depicted with a golden plate holding her eyes and often holds a palm branch, which is a symbol of victory over evil.

    Dear Friend,

    There we were in late September, sitting on broken sofas in a bare apartment in Beirut, Lebanon, once the beautiful “Paris of the East.”

    We listened as residents spoke, sorrow in their eyes. On August 4, 2020, more than two years ago now, a catastrophic explosion rocked Beirut — affecting most severely the Christian section of the city. It had sent a shock wave into this apartment. “The blast came right up that street, and knocked me back across this room,” our host said, pointing at his apartment balcony outside. More than 200 died in that explosion, and 200,000 people were left in ruined apartments. Two years later in this Christian section of Beirut, many Christian homes are still in disrepair and the majority of Christian businesses are no longer in existence.

    The Maronite Christians we were visiting (we were there with a small group of friends of Urbi et Orbi Communications, publisher of Inside the Vatican magazine) were among the lucky ones: they were alive, and had shelter — but no beds on which to sleep. Urbi et Orbi, through our “Friends of Lebanon” project, was able to purchase beds for them, and other home essentials — but there are so many more still without these necessities…

“Urbi is doing a great job getting money directly where it needs to go — to those who need it” – Dr. Edmond Raheb, Connecticut, USA a donor and pilgrim who traveled with Urbi in Lebanon

The October 4, 2021 launch of Unitas: Robert Moynihan with Tony Assaf, from Lebanon. Mr. Assaf is a consultant with the “Friends of Lebanon” project.

    How did we get there?

    When we started publishing Inside the Vatican magazine, it was the early 1990s — the vigorous and charismatic Pope John Paul II was still in the early part of his pontificate and had caught the attention — and admiration — of the world in a way his predecessors had not. There was a sense of renewed hope for the Church and for its vital contribution to the life of the world.

Robert Moynihan and Grzegorz Galazka, Rome photographer for Inside the Vatican since its inception, present the first issue of Inside the Vatican magazine to Pope John Paul II in August, 1993, at Castel Gondolfo outside of Rome.

    Today, the Church is still the world’s hope — for peace, for justice and for holiness. But the Church, and Christians everywhere, sometimes even in our own families, are being seriously hampered by something: a fundamental lack of unity.

    First and foremost, there is the struggle of each soul to know God, and His perfect will for us — and to enter into communion with Him, to reach complete unity with Him.

    Then there is also a struggle to preserve communion within our own often-fractured Catholic Church, and to seek renewed communion with our brothers and sisters in faith and sacrament in the Orthodox Church, whose split with the Church in Rome in 1054 A.D. was the first major schism in Christianity.

“God is asking us to travel decisively down the path toward full unity.” —Pope Benedict XVI, addressing Orthodox Christians on May 1, 2005

Summer 1993: The first issue of Inside the Vatican

December 2022: The current issue of Inside the Vatican

    Jesus cautioned us that, “A house divided cannot stand.” Unity is the hallmark of God’s kingdom on earth, and all that it connotes — love, truth, understanding, forbearance, forgiveness, the common search for the face of God — is under assault.

    In fact, it is the spirit of division — a spirit not of God — which seeks to prevail by “cleaving in two” what God wills to be one: one truth, one Church, one people. Opposition, strife, even acrimony have taken hold of our Church, our world, and often, our hearts.

    And we can’t help but respond.

    We are using all the knowledge, experience and influence we have acquired to respond in both spiritual and tangible ways. Thirty years of publishing Inside the Vatican magazine has opened doors for us. As one of the most respected and influential magazines in the Catholic world, we have friends around the world in both Catholic and Orthodox churches.

    In 2021, Urbi et Orbi Communications launched Unitas: Come Rebuild My Church, a new initiative to carry forward our work for unity. Inside the Vatican remains our flagship project and our anchor as we expand our efforts, guided by the prayer of Jesus, “That all may be one.”

    What is Urbi et Orbi Communications doing concretely?

    First, we continue to practice the balanced but incisive journalism our readers have come to expect in Inside the Vatican. We started Inside the Vatican magazine 30 years ago to proclaim the truth, through the lens of the Universal Church, not just the “American Church” — or any other particular vantage point. And we provide a catalyst for discussion between differing, faithful points of view.

    And we will stay in print — even though it is becoming expensive. In this era of “cancel culture,” it is far more difficult to muzzle the truth if it is printed on paper — not just online. Plus, our hard-copy magazines find their way into the hands of prisoners, of kids in college dorms, of senior citizens and of religious who have little or no internet access. Our digital platforms also work to foster sorely-needed unity of faith and life within the Catholic Church through our informative YouTube channel videos, our online version of Inside the Vatican, and our Writer’s Chat video interviews, where we “continue the conversation” with writers from the pages of our magazine.

“I couldn’t agree more with ITV on preserving print. I receive many things on the computer; it is often very tiring to sit uncomfortably in front of a screen. I love to get ITV, get my coffee, sit in my comfortable recliner and really enjoy the magazine!” – Patricia DeChurch, Kentucky, USA

    Second, we actively seek opportunities to use our relationships, influence, and experience to reach out to our Orthodox brothers and sisters — in places like Lebanon. We have the advantage of being nimble, able to move behind the scenes to arrange round table meetings, cultural exchanges and spiritual events with both church leaders and lay people. We continue to fund scholarships and exchange programs between the Vatican and Orthodox churches.

Orthodox priests and Pope Francis at the Vatican during one of the exchange programs funded by Urbi et Orbi Communications.

    Third, we are on the ground bringing “short-term help” and “long-term hope” to the suffering people on both sides of the divide with our “Friends of Russia and Ukraine” initiative, a sister project to our “Friends of Lebanon” initiative, providing food, clothing and other necessities to families, the elderly and the handicapped.

    To return to my earlier story…

    On that same Lebanon trip, we also met with a group of lay Orthodox leaders. Sitting across the table from us with folded arms, they asked, “Why are you here?” We answered, “We come with our arms open to join our hands with yours to help the Christians in this land, a land where Jesus walked.”

    They were astonished. They could not believe that Catholics would travel all the way to Lebanon to help the Orthodox. But finally, sitting back in their chairs, they opened their arms and said, “Okay, let’s work together, let’s walk together…”

“Be bound to one another by the bonds of charity, treating each other with respect, helping one another, bearing with each other in Christ Jesus: if you really try to live like this, there is no doubt that the Lord, our God, will be in your midst.” – St. Angela Merici (1474-1540), Foundress of the Company of St. Ursula

    As Catholics, we are truly the brothers and sisters of the Orthodox. Together we can not only provide fraternal support in need, but defend Christ’s Body, the Church, from the constant attack of the world, of secularism, of those who would stamp out our faith. Walk with Us…

    The mission of Unitas: Come, Rebuild My Church is to provide the vessel by which you can join hands with our mission and the Universal Church to participate in this vital work.

    Your charitable gifts enable this work to continue. We are asking for your financial support and your prayers. All contributions of any amount are appreciated.

    God bless each of you, and all your families,

    Robert Moynihan
    Editor, Inside the Vatican magazine

Urbi et Orbi Communications is celebrating 30 years in 2023.

View a short video on our work, The Past, The Present and The Future.

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